Year 1995, one fine morning in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the forest rangers and the group of Wild life photographers and researchers woke up hearing loud roars of a band of 5 lions. They were residing near to the forest area named Mala Mala. Hearing this loud roar which was unusual they got to know that something un ordinary would have happened in the area. These group of people with their camera’s set out to the region from where the sound was coming and what they saw there was victorious roars of band of 5 male lions who came from a different forest area and defeated and took over the pride in Mala Mala region.
The major characteristic of Kruger National Park is that it has many pathways within that help vehicles and jeeps to move and this helped the researchers and photographers visualize and learn about the wild life over there. So, lets come back to the story. These researchers when reached Mala Mala region where they heard the loud roars of lion had an opportunity to witness the victory of male lions who have came over to Mala Mala region from a different forest area and had defeated the males who were already residing there and have taken over the pride.
So, this is a common phenomenon within male lions, where they travel over different forest areas and try to defeat the male lions in that area and will continue to dominate the pride there. Once the invading lions kill the band of male lions who already were dominating that area will kill the cubs as well in the pride (group of female lions and their cubs), so that they can destroy the entire life history of prior male bands and can recreate their heredity in the new area.
Our group of researchers started studies of the phenomenal characters of lions in the Mala Mala region. Usually, same band of male lions will be dominating several prides in different areas and will be having cubs as well in these areas. While trying to defeat the males in a region and taking over the pride, if any lioness tries to oppose them, the healthier invading males will kill that lioness as well. The band of 5 male lions who newly invaded to the Mala Mala region was named as The West streetlions by the researchers and the pride they took over under their dominancy was named as the Sparta Pride.
The West street lions had about 10-12 cubs in the Sparta pride, among which 5 cubs were male. In a pride the life of a cub will be secure only if the male parents in the groups are healthier. The cubs born in the Sparta pride were lucky enough because their parents, the west street lions were efficient. These cubs were taken for hunting with the female lions and were efficiently trained in hunting. Based on the morphological characters, names were kept for all the 5 male cubs and they were Scar (the one who had scars on body ), Pretty Boy (the one who was the prettiest among all the 5), Mr. T (who had is hair in shape which resembled the alphabet T), the one with special tail was named Kinky tail and the last one was named as Rasta. All these 5 cubs were so connected to each other, but researchers found that there was some special connection between Mr T and the Kinky Tail.
The focus of researchers was mainly on Mr. T as he showed some special behavioural patterns compared to others and as Kinky tail was always besides Mr. T for everything, e was also being observed. Usually, in a pride the female lions get food to the group and give it to male lions who dominate the pride and cubs and after they are full, the female lions and the cubs have their meals. Here the unusual thing which happened is Mr. T used to have food along with the elder male lions.
In 2003, it was noticed that a lion somewhat 2-3 years elder to the male cubs group reached the Sparta pride. Though, not readily accepted by the lionesses, the West street males tolerated him and did not kill him, even though typically, intruding males of his age would be killed. Field experts put forward many opinions on Makulu was accepted by the West street lions and they believed in a likely reason for his acceptance in to the pride was because he may have been the offspring of one of the West street males and lioness from another pride and therefor Makulu became half-brother of the other 5.
During early 2006, 5 sub adults and Makulu left the Sparta Pride. The group of six lions was named Mapogos – “The Mighty Mapogos”. They now had to fight for themselves and had to find their own meals for the day. Gradually they became efficient in hunting and by sticking together they increased their survival chances. Initially they attached small animals and eventually as they grew and experience they were able to take down larger preys such as hippos, rhinos and even giraffes. They succeeded in even taking down the cape buffalo and during buffalo hunts Kinky Tail and Mr. T were observed to be more aggressive than others.
The Mapogos first pride clash happened in 2006, were they entered the Northern Sabi Sand. This area was ruled by 4 males and the Mapogos upon their arrival to that region managed to kill and takeover the area. The pride which was taken over by the Mapogos were named as Ottava pride. One of the lionesses in the pride tried to oppose the Mapogos and she was also killed by the 6 lions. After the fights there remained 3 lionesses and their 11 cubs. Due to male lion’s instinct, they were able to find all the 11 cubs and then they killed them. The unusual thing which happened here was that Mr. T ate some of the cubs, despite the cannibalistic behaviour in lions was uncommon.
With all the competitions eliminated, Mapogos within a short period of time was dominating 8 prides and they turned out to be the most dominant male coalition of Sabi Sand and killed more than 100 lions from their neighbouring prides during their rule and due to this the number of lions in the Kruger National park decreased significantly. As such an estimate of 1, 70,000 acres of land in Kruger National Park was under the control of Mapogos. No one would have heard stories of such a strong coalition of lions earlier or after Mapogos.
Despite ruling a large territory Mapogos coalition was not functioning smoothly due to internal rivalry. Many fights and clashes out broke within the leader of the group Makulu and Mr. T. Later a closely contested clash happened between the two, though Mr. T was a good fighter, Makulu somehow managed to win the fight by biting on Mr. T’s leg. After this incident Mr. T and Kinky Tail broke off from their 4 brothers. They headed toward east of Sabi Sand so that they can take control over the Northern part of the territory.
As per the Geographical features any new band of male lions entering the sabi sand will have to first encounter the territories owned by Mr. T and Kinky Tail. In 2010, a coalition of 5 males were found to enter the Northern side of Sabi Sand which was dominated by Mr. T and the Kinky Tail. The group of 5 lions were named as Majingilanes. In a buffalo hunt, Mr. T and Kinky tail were successful to isolate one of the 5 lions in Majingilanes and they chased and caught the intruder in their territory. They Killed the lion and Mr. T ate the Majingilane.
Later the same night, 2 of the Majingilanes appeared in front of Kinky Tail, who charged on them immediately without a second thought. The 2 Majingilanes ran with Kinky tail on their back and suddenly the other 2 Majingilanes came up behind the Kinky Tail.Without the experience of being afraid of anything, the now-aging Kinky Tail attacked all four of them by himself. Eventually the 4 Majingilanes had pinned down Kinky Tail. The four males immediately started to bite and rip apart Kinky Tail. The Majingilanes managed to successfully snap Kinky Tail’s spine, thus immobilizing him and leaving him with zero chance of survival. Mr. T eventually arrived and attempted to rescue and fight off the Majingilanes but was outnumbered and forced to flee. Two Majingilanes attempted to track Mr. T but were unsuccessful and returned to kill Kinky Tail. The four 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. During the altercation, Mr. T attempted again to save his brother. However, still injured from the previous encounter, his attempt was to no avail, and he again fled. Majingilane lions took over the territory and the pride of the two defeated lions and likely killed all their cubs.
After Kinky Tail’s death, Mr. T was driven off his territory and headed back west to re-join his former coalition with Makulu, Rasta, Pretty Boy and Scar and managed to peacefully coexist with his fellow brothers in their territory. However, soon after Mr. T was observed seeking out, killing and eating his brother’s cubs. His brothers did nothing to stop this. Mr. T was eventually taking over the pride of his brothers, and the cubs were standing in his way. This was also done to mate with the females and spread his own lineage. Gradually, Mr. T was taking over the dominancy and leadership of the Mapogos Coalition.Later, the Mapogos set out to Northern area of the Saby sand which is now dominated by Majingilanes. Though Mapogos were more in number than Majingilanes, they were older and less in strength compared to them. In that attack Rasta was killed by the Majingilanes and Pretty boy is believed to have been shot by Poachers. Now, the Mapogos coalition reduced to three which included Mr. T, Makulu and Scar.
In 2012, band of lions named Selatis who were much younger and healthier entered the Mapogos territory from South.The four Selatis singled out Mr. T. By the time wildlife officials and film crew arrived, Mr. T had already been attacked and had several bite wounds on his back and front shoulder. One of the bites near the back was a deep bite. Mr. T was paralyzed from the hip down from the attack and made him vulnerable from all four lions coming in for the attack. 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 the severely injured and paralyzed Mr. T, who died that evening. But Selatis did not eat Mr. T as Majingilanes did to Kinki Tail.
“The Final Battle” ( Mr.T fighting his last battle)
Once the news reports came out that the people all over the world were much disappointed and arguments raised telling the lion dead was not Mr. T. After Mr. T was dead, Makulu and Scar left the territory and was driven off for survival. Later people started investigation for spotting the rest Mapogos Makulu and Scar. Makulu was seen for last time alone at Mala Mala, neighbouring his old haunt, the Sabi Sand Reserve. At this time, he was around 15 years old and have already exceeded the average male lion expectancy and Is expected that would have died soon. The second generation from cubs of Mapogos from Ottawa Pride are still present in the Kruger National Park and hence, there heredity is still maintained.
A 6-member coalition of lions was extremely rare, and the rangers and experts had witnessed the most relentless reign for power and dominance known to the lion population. The Mapogos coalition’s ability to control and protect such an expansive area of land was unprecedented in the lion population. They will forever be remembered for the legendary force.