Mpondo Male Lions

Today’s post is dedicated to the 5 Mpondo males. Their journey is a truly incredible one considering how the coalition was formed and how they have continued to be one of the most successful coalitions in the Kruger National Park.

Mpondo Male Lions
Photo by Hanno Erasmus – Wild Kruger Safaris

The coalition was formed in Mjejane Game Reserve which borders the S25 in Kruger National Park.
They had an unfortunate claim to fame in 2013, they are well known due to this incident that occurred, before the coalition was formed two of the males in their younger days attempted hunting a buffalo,

Mpondo Male Lions

The photos and video went viral when the one male got flipped into the air by a buffalo.

Mpondo Male Lions
Photo by Conn O’Donoghue

You can read more about the full sighting here.

Here is a few pictures of them in their younger days.

Mpondo Male Lions
Mpondo Male Lions

We got in touch with guide Dave Pusey who was lucky enough to spend a lot time with them in their younger days in Mjejane.
In his words he described a remarkable story of how the Mpondo coalition was formed in a similar manner to the famous Mapogos.

This is what Dave had to say: “Yes I was very lucky to have spent a lot of time with them growing up in Mjejane. There are a few conflicting stories out there but after chatting with other guides at the time we seem to have it worked out. So the older male with the branding definitely came from the Vurhami pride. Then 2 of the young males from Lukimbi pride and the other 2 from Jock pride. The 4 younger males didn’t bond straight away…had a few issues with each other at first. The older Vurhami male seemed to gel all 5 together and was the initial leader. The Vurhami male reminded me of my time in Sabi Sands when Makulu Mapogo initially lead the Mapogos and kept the bond of the younger Mapogos strong!”

Mpondo Male Lions
Photo by Dave Pusey – Leo Vantage Private guided safaris

It is not a common occurrence for a coalition to form from 3 different prides. definitely makes the Mpondo coalition unique for this reason.
The 5 males once known as the Mjejane males got their name as the Mpondo males from establishing a territory around the dam located on the S102 and were in control of the Mpondo pride in 2016

Mpondo Male Lions
Photo by Graeme Mitchley

They began expanding their territory in 2017, seen as far south as the S25 and all the way up to the S21 and Renosterkoppies on the S114/S112 where they were often seen mating with females from the Renosterkoppies pride.

In 2018 they were in control of the territory between Mpondo dam, Renosterkoppies/S114 area and western side of the S21, they spent spent a lot of their time in the area as the Renosterkoppies females had new cubs. We we had a nice sighting of the Renosterkoppies pride and their young cubs in June 2018 who was accompanied by the oldest Mpondo male.

The oldest male, often referred to as the 5th Mpondo as he usually seen alone or with the pride while the other 4 males often seen on patrol together.

Photo by Hanno Erasmus – Wild Kruger Safaris
Photo by Hanno Erasmus – Wild Kruger Safaris

They occasionally visited Mpondo dam and were seen mating with females from the Mpondo pride who no longer had any young cubs in the pride and only sub adults.

At the end of 2018 we saw the smallest of the males alone on the S21. He didn’t appear to be in the best condition, while his appearance isn’t as impressive as the other members of the coalition it’s remarkable to have seen sightings of him in poor condition and looked like his days were numbered but till today is still alive and well. This definitely feeds into the reason why these large coalitions are formed as it provides protection against rival males.

Photo by Big on Wild

2019 brought a bit of change as they seemed to be expanding their territory further west onto the H3 where they briefly appeared a few times in 2018. With very few sightings of them around Mpondo dam it appeared they abandoned that portion of their territory which was taken over by the four S26 males.

Currently they spend most of their time with the Renosterkoppies pride around parts of the Jock Concession, H3 and up to the S112. These boys cover a huge territory and it’s amazing to see some of the distances they travel.

We complied some individual portraits of each of the males

Male 1

Photo by Hanno Erasmus – Wild Kruger Safaris

Male 2

Photo by Hanno Erasmus – Wild Kruger Safaris

Male 3

Photo by Hanno Erasmus – Wild Kruger Safaris

Male 4

Mpondo Male Lions
Photo by Marc Cronje

Male 5

Photo by Big on Wild

We end off with a sighting we had in March 2020 of one the beautiful males on the H3.

Photo by Big on Wild
Photo by Big on Wild

We will be posting an incredible sighting that Hanno Erasmus had of them next week so be sure to keep an eye on the blog.

Thank you so much for reading.

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