Most people agree that lions hold the title of the most majestic of the big cats. They inspire awe in animal lovers worldwide. This video shows two males of the Mapogo lion coalition walking together as they patrol their territory. The sheer size of these “kings of the jungle” is readily appreciated while they walk past brush in their homeland. Their muscles ripple under their skin, reminding us just how strong lions are. This powerful coalition (group of male big cats, also seen in cheetahs) is famous throughout Africa and the world. Let’s learn more about the Mapogo lions!
See Two of the Incredible Mapogo Lion Coalition Members Below!
What is the Mapogo Lion Coalition?
The infamous Mapogo lion coalition comprised six massive male lions during its peak in 2006. They controlled a massive territory of about 170,000 acres and eight different prides (lion family groups) in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. During their reign, they killed more than 100 other lions, including rival males, females, and cubs. This is due, in part, to the male lion’s instinct to kill cubs fathered by other lions. The other part? That’s their instinct to kill rival males and take over prides.
How Did the Coalition Form?
Male lions possess an instinct to leave their home pride as they begin to reach sexual maturity. In fact, they are often driven out by the dominant male in the pride.
Because the six lions were all similar in age, they moved on from the pride together. This created the Mapogo lion coalition. The leader, Makulu, was slightly older than the others and took charge. The other five included Rasta, Scar (Dreadlocks), Pretty Boy, Kinky Tail (KT), and Mr. T (Satan). Some infighting occurred between the six males. This eventually led to a split in the coalition, which left Mr. T and KT on the outs in 2008.
What Happened to the Mapogo Lions?
The two smaller coalitions ruled their half of the territory in peace for two years. Then, a rival coalition (the Majingilanes) arrived in the territory. They targeted the smaller half of the Mapogo lion coalition and managed to brutally kill KT. This happened only after Mr. T and KT singled out and killed the youngest of the Majingilanes males. Mr. T attempted twice to save his brother but was overpowered and outnumbered. KT’s death was absolutely gruesome, and his body was partially eaten by the rival males.
Sad and alone, Mr. T traveled back to meet up with the other three males of the Mapogo coalition. Field guides and film crew members state they felt terrified that the others would kill Mr. T or drive him away. Fortunately, they did not. They accepted him back with open paws. However, Mr. T began attacking and eventually killed his brother’s cub shortly after his reunion. The other lions did not stop him or seem to worry about this.
Rasta disappeared without a definitive reason soon after the brothers reunited. Not only that, but Scar left the game reserve and was killed by locals around the same time. The three remaining Mapogo lions continued ruling for a while, but more trouble loomed over them.
In 2012, yet another group of males arrived in the Mapogo coalition territory – the Selatis coalition. The four of these lions singled out and attacked Mr. T, killing him after a long, torturous battle. They took turns attacking him before leaving him paralyzed and bleeding to die of his wounds.
The End of a Dynasty
The two remaining Mapogo lions, Makulu and Pretty Boy, abandoned their territory to the Selatis coalition. The pair entered Kruger National Park side by side in 2012, and witnesses saw them feeding on buffalo in October and November of that year. The joy of their sighting would yet again be short-lived.
In January 2013, Makulu alone was sighted in the Mala Mala Game Reserve. Those watching the Mapogo lions through social media assumed that meant he outlived all his brothers at 15 years old. This is well past the expected lifetime of a male lion. The reports of sightings came to a halt around this time. Most enthusiasts agree that Makulu likely met his end in the same grisly fashion as he and his brother killed so many others. The life of a male lion is not an easy one – filled with fighting and bloodshed right to the end.
A documentary detailing the lives of this unbelievably deadly group of lions came out in 2015 entitled Brothers in Blood: The Lions of Sabi Sand. It covers a 16-year span and follows the rise and fall of the Mapogo lion coalition.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Traci Beattie/iStock via Getty Images
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