The legend of Sabi Sands’ lions, who teamed up to dominate 70,000 hectares of land

Legend is a word that is thrown around too easily nowadays, but this term can certainly be used to accurately sum up the Mapogo lions of the Sabi Sands. Their story is one of 6 magnificent lions who ruled their territory with an iron paw, striking fear into the hearts of all that crossed them.

The Mapogo lion coalition is a notorious band of brothers who went on a brutal quest to dominate and rule the Sabi Sands. Their coalition became infamous for its sheer power and strength, it was believed that they controlled an area of approx 70,000 hectares.

However, the Mapogo Coalition is not the first nor will it be the last large coalition, although coalitions of six or more male lions are pretty rare. The Bila Shaka male coalition is also a famous one.

Male lions in Southern Africa typically live in coalitions. These coalitions are normally formed with relatives, brothers and cousins. They usually form when the males are still cubs and living with their pride hence why they are usually related but this isn’t always the case, there are records of unrelated males joining up and forming coalitions later in their lives.

The young males show signs of bonding behaviour early on which is critical for forming a coalition, they will spend more and more time in each other’s company as they grow and less time with their sisters.

They show their developing independence behaviour when they start lagging behind the pride when on the move and eventually leaving the pride between the ages of two and four. Independence can be extremely stressful for young male lions as they have to learn to hunt for themselves.

The male lion is the dominant force in the wild and is constantly challenged by others, these coalitions are a means of gaining territory and female lions who will rear their young and do most of the hunting for the pride, it goes without saying that strength is in the numbers.

Successful coalitions find females and gain access to them by chasing away the resident males. Once a coalition has gained access to the females, they typically settle for a while, spending time mating and fathering cubs.


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