Thursday, June 10, 2010

Safari Wildlife lead a wild life

Going on safari before the start of the World Cup seemed like an excellent idea. Not only would it be great to see and take photographs of all the wildlife and a little bit of a different of an experience.

I thought it would be driving around taking pretty photographs of impala, zebras, elephans, water buffalo and hopefully lions as well, the Big 5 as they are known. But I ended up getting a much more intense experience in how beautiful and how brutal nature can really be.

On the 2nd day of the safari the rangers were tracking a group of 5 lions that were entering the Sabi Sands Natural Reserve which is just outside of Kruger National Park where I was staying. On the reserve there are two lions, brothers, who are the dominant lions for the region. They had been named by the rangers Mr. T and Kinky Tail and were two bad lions. Over the years they had killed 45 different lions who had tried to intrude on their territory and take it over. The fights between the lions is based on survival of the strongest for dominance and for many years the two brothers were the dominant lions of the region.

That morning there was rumors that one of the 5 brothers had gotten separated from the rest of them lions and was being chased around by the two brothers. The rangers at the reserve kept looking for them and finally we found them just as the two brother lions engaged the lost lion.

It was one of the most fearsome and amazing sights I have ever seen. The two brothers were ganging up on the lion and trying to bite its jugular while the other held it down. After awhile that didn’t work with the lost lion putting up a brave fight.

Eventually the two brothers went for the hind legs of the lost lion and basically bit and broke both of its legs so it could not walk. After doing that the lions started to yell out their call for supremacy of the area and frighten anyone else away.

Every once in awhile the lost lion would drag his body around and try and attack the two lions and they would pounce on him. It was a losing proposition.

The struggle continued throughout the day and when we returned in the evening it was a much different scene. The lost lion was laying in the grass, its legs broken behind the body and in an unnatural position. He was still breathing but it was only a matter of time until he would die.

The two brothers were not in top shape either. Mr. T just had scrapes but Kinky Tail had hurt his front paw and was limping around. They still seemed victorious in the fight but it was not over….

We drove a short distance and found the other four brothers of the lost lion and they were not far away. It looked like the four brothers would try and exact their revenge on the two brothers that night.

Which is exactly what happened. I didn’t see this fight but one of the other rangers saw it and described it to my ranger. Basically in the middle of the night they had somehow lured Kinky Tail into the open and away from Mr. T and cornered him. He charged at them at full speed running into them and knocking two of them off their feet but the other two jumped on his back and with the help of the other two eventually began to tear him to pieces. Mr. T happened onto the fight but too late to save Kinky Tail and was injured himself and had to escape to survive.

With the dominance of the two brothers gone it looked like the region was shaping up for a long period of fighting until some other lions could claim the area. The ranger hoped that Mr. T could retain his control over the area for 4 or 5 more months until some cub lions in the area could grow up enough to be able to fight for themselves, cause if they were not able to and the 4 brothers take over the region they would kill all the cubs who could be potential rivals in the future. A brutal idea indeed.

One of the most hectic sights I have ever seen.


  1. Holy Moly, Doug!! That's amazing.

  2. Having watched Mr. T and Kinkytail on Safari channel now for 4 years, it was heart breaking to hear about Kinky being killed and Mr. T hurt.. But such is life in the bush.. Mr. T and kinky were part of a bigger coalition of 6 that has split apart in the past couple of years..Kinky will be missed..

  3. You could NOT have watched Kinky Tail for 4 years, WE has only been on for 3 years and the Mapogo's came in about 6 months after the first drive..

  4. Amazing photo's and to not get must of been hard..I could not imagine..Thanks, for sharing.

  5. thank you so much for the article and pictures, even though they are hard to look at. Its the laws of land, and lions fights are not pretty.
    May all the lions lost rest in peace now.

  6. Fantastic pictures.... must have been really hard to watch that but yes, .... "the hands off approach" is best. Nature is amazing. Thanks for sharing them with everyone.

  7. Thanks for the Amazing article and pictures,I have a request for you if you could please upload the video of this battle then it would be very nice of you as everybody will be interested to see that what actually happened in this epic battle.

  8. yes i agree i think we sould see it thank u so much i love your website

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this. We watched these amazing Lions for almost 4years. We first saw them at Nikora than at Elephant planes. Later they were shown on those safari drives. Sad that Kinky has passed and Mr T is injured again.
    We appreciate very much you taking the time to inform us of what happened .

  10. Oh thank you for the pictures - I cannot imagine the power of such an encounter, the sheer wildness and terror - thank you for bringing part of this story I've been following to life with your amazing shots.

  11. Amazing photographs! What an incredibly wonderful experience to see the fight live! The Mapogo coalition came into my life via Wildearth.TV in February 2008 but I believe they began their reign of terror in northern Sabi Sands late 2007; I had no access at that time to the camera. In March 2008 five of the six lions were seen on the Wildearth camera. Two of that coalition were seen on camera fairly regularly after that, Satan and Chaka (aka Mr T and Kinky Tail). Those two created havoc wherever they went. They lived violently and now one has died violently too. What goes around comes around! That is life in the bush.

    1. The "Mopogos" began their reign in 2006 if this helps.

    2. The "Mopogos" began their reign in 2006 if this helps.

  12. I am truly sorry about losing Kinky T,, all of you truley loved him ,Nature is every place on earth ,We live and we die and some of us die in peace and some die in violence or accidents.
    No one lives forever, We are selves fight for what we want, sometimes we win and at times we lose. MR T had a good life I am sure. And he is still walking. And that is great news IMO
    Kinky T is at peace now,,, and we move on
    to another voyage of life nature and all.

  13. Mr T is on camera alive at EP right now.
    Elephant Plains. His wounds are very visible.

  14. thanks for shareing,not sure id have wanted to see that,such is nature and wild life

  15. ARE they sure it is MR T , I did not see Karin post that it was..

  16. Here's the EP Lodge Facebook report, for those who don't have Facebook:

    Hi guys, we got so many questions on the male lion in front of the webcam, so here we go:
    We started seeing a lone male lion on Elephant Plains about two months ago. If I have to take a guess, he looks to be about six to seven years old. He moves around by himself and is not in the best looking condition that a male of his ago should be. He has lost a lot of his mane, which is a sign that he is mal-nutritioned and under a huge amount of stress. He has one weak looking eye as well as a bad hip. He is unable to catch big animals and has mainly been scavenging from our leopards. He has also been seen eating tortoises, which is starting to break his teeth down. As with the whole upset of the Mapogo’s; they are not trying to catch him for they are more occupied with the other four males that are running around in the east. This male is lying low and is not attracting any attention to himself as he will lose his life if found even by females, as he is a threat to their cubs. The weak eye and bad hip is a clear indication that he did have a run-in with other lions and managed to escape, although this left him in bad shape. It is speculated that he is one of the Golf Course males, found in the Mala Mala section. As I am writing this, he has found solace in the riverbed right in front of the main deck, in the shade of some palm trees. Salayexe and one of the cubs just came onto the scene and this caused him to dart off into the bushes – he is obviously avoiding any confrontation. As for the questions concerning the death of one of the Stix females just inside Londolozi, we have heard a few rumors, but we’re not sure which one it is at this stage. We still saw them on Monday. Some say it’s the eldest female, but nothing is confirmed. Mr. T joined up with the Tsalala’s and on Sunday night they tried to get into camp twice. This morning he was spotted contact calling on Safari airstrip. The huge amount of lion activity during the last few days, especially from the Tsalala’s and also after Kinky Tails death, show that they are unsettled and a lot seems to be happening… EP Head Ranger – Wayne Dovey

  17. Max Dhom (one of the two Germans in the camp)July 15, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    Hi Douglas!

    Just found your business card and had a look at your amazing photos! Incredible, what you've seen! Even "better" than our female leopard!

    Maybe we meet again, in another part of the world! If you come to Germany, maybe you can send an email!


  18. I personally love the 5th photo, such anger and determination, you can feel it just by looking at it!

  19. the blood spot on the injured lion is in the shape of a heart. some how that puts my mind at peace a little instead of bawling. not to mention out of the 3 of them the one that the two brothers killed was the most beautiful. it still makes me sad.

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  21. Amazing photo's i love ,and to not get must of been hard..I could not imagine..Thanks, for sharing.
    Desert Safari