Who were the Mapogo Males And How Did They Get Their Names?
The Mapogo lions were also known as the Eyrefield Males, the Sparta Males and sometimes the “Cannibals”.
A common story for how they got their names is that they were named Mapogo after a security company, “Mapogo A Mathamaga Security” ( no longer in operation ) that utilised rather harsh methods when dealing with offenders. 2
“Mapogo” can be thought of as the “Vigilantes” 3 or “Rogues” 4
Another version of this is that “Mapogo” is a siSwati word for a group working/operating together for greater security.
Born in 19987 and is the oldest member of the Mapogos and the outside lion who joined the 5 brothers. He was also one of the last two remaining Mapogo lions.
Makhulu means “Big” or “Impressive” in the Zulu and Xhosa African languages. He was given this name because he was a huge lion that was larger and older then the other 5 brothers. He had a magnificent black mane.
Originating from the Sparta pride – Pretty Boy was one of the two last remaining Mapogo Lions.
Pretty Boy was a magnificent male lion specimen and so garnered this nickname.
Mr T (Satan)
Mr T had a very unique mohawk mane which made him distinctive and why he was named after the A-Team’s similarly mohawked character.
He was given the nickname “Satan” after he returned to his four coalition members territory and proceeded to kill his own brother’s cubs, as he had not been part of the breeding in that area of the park.
Satan was killed by the Southern Pride on the Mackenzie cutline.
Skew Spine/Scarred Male
This Mapogo had a very distinctive scar on his back left hip and spine.
Rasta had got something caught in his mane which created a section that looked just like a dreadlock.
Kinky Tail had a kink is his tail which rangers and trackers used to identify him.
Kinky Tail was killed by the Majingilane males.
How did Makhulu fit in?
The story goes that the Sparta pride lost a sub adult male of about 20-21 months of age in May/June of 2000 and in July of the same year the male that would be known as Makhulu latched onto the original pride and became a kind of big brother to the other 5.
He was barely tolerated by the Sparta pride and had a difficult life as an outcast. However he became one of the boldest and most valued hunters in the pride and some think he was the leader of the Mapagos.
Londolozi sometimes calls Makhulu “Ngalalalekha” which means “Lion King”.7
Makhulu is said to be bigger and darker than the other Mapogos and is thought to have fathered most of the Mapogo’s original cubs.
The above video is of Makhulu mating with a lioness.
Where did the Mapogo Lions come from?
The Mapogo lions were born out of the Sparta pride* in the summer of 2001/2002. The Sparta pride ( named after one of the farms that formed part of their territory – this farm is better known as Londolozi and borders Mala Mala )
*The Sparta pride was also known as the Mala Mala “Eyrefield Pride”
The Mapogos were 5 brothers from the Sparta Pride and were joined by one large outsider lone male ( Makhulu ) which had come from the Kruger National park a few years before and joined the Sparta pride.
This coalition of 6 males moved west in 2004 to start their bid for territory and managed to become the dominant force in the area for 6 years.
Is it normal to have so many lions in a coalition?
Not usually. But the Kruger Park area and specifically the Sabi Sands Reserve within the Kruger National Park has been known to produce mega prides for sometime now.
Why? One reason could be that the Sabi Sands area is extremely productive for predators due to an abundance of prey. This and other reasons have led the lions to operate in smaller than usual territories that are still productive enough.
Possibly because of these smaller territories the coalitions need added security and power in order to hold their territories for a successful amount of time.1
A mega pride usually consists of four or five dominant male lions, the Mapogos coalition consisted of 6 large male lions!
The Mapogo males were sired by a coalition of 5 lions known as The West Street Males aka The Sparta Males.
Is Cannabalism and Infanticide common among lions?
Infanticide or the killing of young cubs is quite common when a new male/s takes over an area or pride of lions. This is usually done by the males, but lionesses have also been known to kill young cubs.
Note: This has been recorded in a number of species throughout the animal kingdom, most notably among primates, as well as dolphins and meerkats.
Cannibalism, however, is not common although it is seen from time to time in Lions. This is one of the reasons the Mapogo lions have become so famous as they were renowned for this.
The Mapogos are thought to have fathered cubs in the Tsalala pride, Ottawa pride and Sand River pride and it is likely that they have fathered cubs in other prides as well.
As the other Mapogos aged they began to father cubs of their own as well, not just Makhulu.
What was the age difference between the Mapogo Males?
Oldest unrelated male: born 19987
Two oldest related males: born 2001
Middle male: born 2001/2002
Two youngest males: born 2002