A morning with the Manyelethi Male lions, by ranger Nic Moxham

A look of concern as Hip-scar realises that the floods did too much damage to the causeway

It has been a while since we got a good look at the powerful coalition of four brothers. Recently the Manyelethi Males have been spending most of their time looking after the Marthly and Marthly-Breakaway Pride’s cubs in the central and western parts of the Sabi Sand Reserve, and have rarely pushed east of the Sand River, but on the 23rd of March we happily welcomed them onto MalaMala.

Hip-scar walking on water

The Hip-scarred Male with a stare-down on his way back from the causeway

We all headed out on drive a little after 6 am and immediately heard the lions roaring from different corners of the property. There were calls coming from east of the river, as well as from the west and they all seemed to be getting closer together. A couple of us crossed the river and drove up the eastern bank towards the audio.

A softer view of the beast

The 3-toothed and Scar-nose Male wait on the western bank, wishing he had a longer lens for this one!

It wasn’t long before the hip-scarred Manyelethi Male was found by Piccadilly Triangle. He continued to walk towards the causeway, and towards the area where more lions could be heard roaring on the western bank. Two more males (Scar-nose and 3-Tooth) were found on the opposite side of the river, and Hip-scar headed towards the causeway to cross over. Unbeknown to him, the floods had demolished our causeway and there was no way for him to cross back west. He waded into the river gingerly, weighed up his options, and then turned back as he realised that the water was too powerful. He continued to walk south as the two males on the western bank eventually reached the water’s edge and lay down. Hip-scar saw his brothers on the bank and decided to swim across. He made it look fairly easy and was quite comfortable in the water, and eventually he reached his brothers. They greeted each other and waited for their final sibling to join them.

Hip-scar begins to cross towards his brothers

It wasn't long before the three Males all decided to cross back east

We could hear another male roaring to the north, and assumed that it was the dark-maned Manyelethi Male getting closer to us. Surprisingly, the scar-nosed, 3-toothed and hip-scarred males decided to cross the river towards their final brother, in order to meet him on the eastern bank. All three lions began to cross over, with 3-Tooth confidently leading the troops across the fast-flowing river. Midway through crossing the river, the hip-scarred male noticed a crocodile and backed-off, leaving his two brothers (who seemed unfazed by the reptile) to carry on towards the eastern bank. They eventually made it across after a good swim, and continued east towards the audio of their brother. Hip-scar had given up and decided that crossing for a second time was not worth the effort. He remained on the western bank. Eventually the two brothers reunited with the dark-maned Manyelethi Male and lay down to rest in a Tamboti thicket as the day began to heat up.

Glad I was on the right side of the river!

The boys crossing the Sand River

3-tooth confidently leading the way

It is safe to say that these lions are in excellent condition, bearing insignificant wounds from their apparent run-ins with the Selati Males to the west.

It was an incredible sighting and I was happy to have my camera with me that day!

Nic Moxham

Who says lions cant swim!

The two Males continued to roar and contact call as they looked to join up with the Dark-maned Manyelethi Male

The two Males wait for their brother

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