Mapogo lion coalition

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The Mapogo lion coalition was a former and notorious band of male lions that went on a quest to dominate and rule the Sabi Sand region in South Africa's Kruger National Park. The coalition became infamous for their sheer power and strength in taking over and dominating an area of approximately 70,000 ha (170,000 acres). At its peak, the coalition consisted of six males including the leader Makulu, Mr. T, Kinky Tail, Scar,Rasta/Dreadlocks, and Pretty Boy.[1]

It is believed the Mapogos killed in excess of 40 lions and cubs. The stats are actually probably higher given their coverage of such large territories. [2]


The Mapogo coalition originated from Mala Mala from what was called the “Eyrefield Pride” (Sparta Pride) and moved into the Western Sector in 2006. The Mapogo lions followed a recent trend in the Sabi Sand Reserve of mega pride male lion coalitions. The five related brothers were sired by a similiar mega pride coalition of five male lions.[3] In their quest to dominate the area, the six lions killed approximately 40 other lions which included lots of cubs, females, and rival adult males.[4]

The oldest Mapogo male Makulu is said to be unrelated to the other 5 lions. The story is that the original Sparta pride lost a male sub adult of 20 to 21 months of age in May/June 2000 and in July 2000 this male of about the same age latched on to the original pride. Though not readily accepted by the lionesses, the West Street Males barely tolerated him though they didn't kill him as he was no threat to their dominance due to his age. Makulu as a result of his older age was naturally bigger in size than his fellow brothers.[5]

In 2006, the six teenage lions left their pride. They now had to fight for themselves but by sticking together they increased their survival chances. Whilst living among themselves, the lions learned cooperation with hunting.[6] The lions eventually grew in size and experience, and were able to take down Hippos, young Rhinos, and even Giraffe. According to Dave Salmoni, when they were successfully able to take down Cape Buffalo was their "key to success". During the buffalo hunts, Kinky Tail and Mr. T were often observed being more aggressive in bringing down the buffalo.[7]

The Mapogos first pride clash was in 2006. The Mapogo lions entered the northern Sabi Sand, which were ruled by 4 dominant males. Immediately upon arrival, the Mapogos managed to kill one of the 4 males, and the remaining 3 were driven off.[8] With the Ottawa pride's male lion driven off, 3 lionesses and 11 cubs remaining. Due to the male lion's natural instincts, the 6 Mapogos quickly found and killed all 11 Ottawa cubs, with reports of Mr. T even eating some of the cubs, cannibalistic behavior in Lions is uncommon.[9] With all competition eliminated, the Mapogos had successfully controlled 8 prides. They were the dominant male coalition of Sabi Sands. But the Mapago coalition wasn't functioning smoothly. Many fights often broke out with the leader Makulu and Mr. T. A closely contested clash then happened with Mr. T and Makulu, in which Makulu managed to grab and bite Mr. T's legs and win the encounter. After this fight, it was observed that Mr. T and Kinky Tail broke off their 4 brothers, and headed east to control the northern part of the territory.[10]

Mr. T and Kinky Tail were then seen patrolling and guarding their territory for 2 years, managing to fight off other rival lions. However, in June 2010, a coalition of 5 male lions named the Majingilanes entered in Mapogo territory for take over. The 5 males were witnessed urinating and roaring loudly in the Mapogo's territory. In a buffalo hunt, Kinky Tail and Mr. T were able to isolate one of the younger Majingilane males and began killing him. While Mr. T bit down on the male's neck, Kinky Tail ripped apart the male's groin area inflicting tears and blood. The younger male fought back and managed to rake Mr. T's face and bite his ear. Eventually Kinky Tail and Mr.T managed to break the Majingilane lion's spine and he was left immobilized and left to die, he died a few hours later.[11]

Kinky Tail's death[edit]

During the night of same day, filming crew witnessed the 4 remaining Majingilane lions on the move, eventually on a dirt road a cloud of dust appeared and the 4 Majingilanes were seen pinning down Kinky Tail. Kinky Tail was lead into a trap by two of the Majingilanes who lead him to being surrounded on all sides by the other 2. The 4 males immediately started to bite and rip apart Kinky Tail. One lion was biting at his neck, another at his back, a third bit off Kinky Tail's testicles and genitalia. The Majingilanes managed to successfully snap Kinky Tail's spine, thus immobilizing him and leaving him with no chance of survival. Mr. T eventually arrived and attempted to rescue and fight off the Majingilanes but was outnumbered and maneuvered and force to flee. Two Majingilanes locked off Kinky Tail's body and attempted to track Mr. T but were unsuccessful, so they returned to kill Kinky Tail. The 4 lions had started eating most of Kinky Tail's hind legs and his entire tail, he was seen taking his last breath while being eaten alive. For several days Mr. T was seen calling for his brother Kinky Tail, seemingly unaware of his brother's death.

After Kinky Tail's death, Mr. T was driven off his territory and headed back west to rejoin his former coalition with Makulu, Rasta, Pretty Boy, and Dreadlocks. Mr.T suprisingly managed to rejoin and peacefully coexist with his fellow brothers in his territory. Soon after Mr.T however was observed seeking out, killing off, and eating his brother's cubs. Mr. T had been trying to take over the pride of his brother's but the cubs were standing in his way. [12] This was also done in a attempt to mate with the females and spread his own lineage. The other lions Makulu and Pretty Boy were seen doing nothing from Mr.T's actions.[13]

Mr. T's death[edit]

In March 16 2012, another coalition of 5 male lions called the Selatis entered Mapogo territory from the south. The 5 Selatis were able to single out one of the Mapogos who turned out to be Mr. T. By the time wildlife officials and film crew arrived, Mr. T had already been attacked and head bite wounds on his near back and front shoulder. Mr. T was paralyzed leg down from the attack and made him vulnerable from all 4 lions coming in for the attack. The tactic used by the Selatis was to distract with on one side, and another lion bite and maul Mr. T on the spine and genitalia. The Selatis would then stop and move away temporarily from attacking, They would then get back up and proceed with attacking Mr. T, this process was repeated several times. Eventually the Selatis left Mr. T who was succumbing to his injuries, he died later that evening.

Following Mr. T's death, the last remaining Mapogos Makulu and Pretty boy fought a pride of 2 Kruger males and were driven off their territory. They were sighted in 2012 side by side, entering the Kruger National Park through the gate attributed to Paul Kruger. The remaining 2 were once again seen feeding on a buffalo in October 2012. In January 2013, Makulu was seen for last time alone at Mala Mala, neighboring his old haunt, the Sabi Sand Reserve. At this point he was 16 years old and exceeded the average male lion expectancy. [14]

In film[edit]

In 2015, the documentary Brothers in Blood: The Lions of Sabi Sand was released and directed by Daniel Huertas. The documentary summarized the 16-year span of the rise and eventual fall of the Mapogo coalition. [15]


  1. ^ Canvas, African Travel (2018-07-24). "The History of the Infamous Sabi Sands Mapogo Lion Coalition". African Travel Canvas. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  2. ^ (2017-04-03). "BREAKING NEWS : 6 Mhangeni Breakaway Lionesses KILL Another Lioness". Sun Destinations - Discover Africa's Hidden Secrets. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  3. ^ "The Notorious Mapogo Lions Of The Sabi Sands". Secret Africa. 2019-05-01. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  4. ^ "The legend of the Mapogo lions". Africa Geographic. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  5. ^ Peter (2008-05-17). "The Mapogo story". WildEarth. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  6. ^ Your Animal Planet (2018-06-06), Lions of Sabi Sands - Episode 1 | Meet the Mapogo Clan, retrieved 2019-04-19
  7. ^ Your Animal Planet (2018-06-06), Lions of Sabi Sands - Episode 2 | Hunt and Kill, retrieved 2019-04-19
  8. ^ Your Animal Planet (2018-06-06), Lions of Sabi Sands - Episode 3 | The Six Gangsters, retrieved 2019-04-19
  9. ^ Your Animal Planet (2018-06-13), Lions of Sabi Sands - Episode 4 | Cub Killers, retrieved 2019-04-19
  10. ^ Your Animal Planet (2018-06-20), Lions of Sabi Sands - Episode 5 | Kings of the Sabi Sands, retrieved 2019-04-19
  11. ^ Your Animal Planet (2018-06-27), Lions of Sabi Sands - Episode 6 | Killing a Majingilane Lion, retrieved 2019-04-19
  12. ^ Your Animal Planet (2018-07-11), Lions of Sabi Sands - Episode 8 | New King of the West, retrieved 2019-04-26
  13. ^ Your Animal Planet (2018-07-04), Lions of Sabi Sands - Episode 7 | Kinky Tail is Killed, retrieved 2019-04-19
  14. ^ "Legend Lives On: Mapogo Lions over the Last Year". Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  15. ^ Brothers in Blood: The Lions of Sabi Sand, retrieved 2019-04-26