20 Oct

The Lions of Tintswalo: An Introduction

What would the African bush be without lions?

These large, magnificent felines take up such a prominent position in the chain of life in the wilderness; with their close-knit prides dominating the savannah; and their loud territorial roars echoing in the night.

Lions are the only social felines on earth. All the other wild cats—leopards, cheetahs and servals—are solitary hunters, preferring to make themselves as scarce as possible, hunting silently in the dead of night, and only connecting with others of their kind to mate and rear their young.

Lions, on the other hand, thrive in numbers. They form tight social groups, or prides, and compete aggressively for territory between the other groups in the area. Within the prides, the politics are continuous, as males struggle to retain control of their family groups, and females prowl the savannah for food, and protect their cubs.

At Tintswalo, the lion dynamics are no less remarkable and fascinating.

The bush is constantly changing, and for us, keeping up the with daily dramas of the lions is like watching a great soap opera unfold in the greater Kruger wilderness. One visit to Tintswalo instills a lifelong interest in these enigmatic animals and the individuals that call it home. Morning and evening game drives are often planned around the lions because there’s always something new happening. Whether its the Giraffe Coalition of five male lions causing havoc while challenging the Thanda Impi Males for their territory, or the new resident Mbiri Pride cubs melting the hearts of all who see them; or just a bunch of sleeping lions lazing away the day—the lions of Tintswalo are the stars in an ongoing story that continues to delight and amaze us all.

It’s an intoxicating experience, and it leaves you hooked, wanting to experience more, to learn more. Luckily for all our interested guests, we are beginning an ongoing series of updates called: The Lions of Tintswalo. Below is a brief introduction of each pride in the area to get you familiar with the central protagonists of the bush. We have no doubt that their antics—which we will record via social media with the hashtag thread #LionsofTintswalo—should keep you entertained and enthralled, wherever you are in the world, as the great theatre of the bush unfolds

To begin, here is a brief overview of all the prides, males and cubs at Tintswalo, and how they link together.

Mbiri Pride

The Mbiri Pride of lions is the resident pride at Tintswalo. Made up of 23 individuals—16 cubs, 5 lionesses and the two Thanda Impi males—they are the central point of much of the lion politics at Tintswalo, and the target of the males in the areas who fight for their territory. The most recent development of the Mbiri pride is a brand new set of gorgeous cubs which are providing endless amusement for us.

Avoca/Giraffe coalition

The Giraffe male lion used to be a loner at Tintswalo, but he recently united with his 3 brothers and they have formed a formidable coalition. They seem unstoppable together. After years of fighting, they are old and a bit war-battered and it will be interesting to see how they fair against the younger Thanda Impi males who are also resident in the area.

Nharhu lion pride

This family group of mothers and sub-adults—6 males and 4 females—are going to be a powerhouse in the reserve in the future. With lots of promise and youth on their side, the Nharu youngsters will be looking to cement their place at Tintswalo and in the greater area. Interestingly, they are beginning to fracture as the young lions reach teenage-hood and explore new areas. It will be interesting to see how their path in the greater Kruger area pans out.

Thanda Impi male ‘Scorro’

The Thanda Impi males are the resident young males in the area. Part of the resident Mbiri pride, they are the dominant characters at Tintswalo, and have their work cut out for themselves defending their territory against all the other marauding males.