The Mighty Mapogos: Gone But Not Forgotten
Before the arrival of Mapogos, lion dynamics was studied by few wildlife experts. But study of the Mapogos gave the momentum to study the lion dynamics extensively. I think, Mapogos were most extensively studied lions after the man-eating Tsavo lions. Their unusual extra-violent behaviour, the conquest of vast land and the devastation they brought upon the lion population in Sabi Sands will elevate them into different league than other lion coalitions.
Topmost from left to right: Makhulu, Dreadlocks, Prettyboy
Bottommost from left to right: Rasta, Kinky Tail, Mr.T
The Mapogo coalition was a band of six notorious brothers. Except the older Mapogo, the remaining five brothers were from Eyrefield pride also known as Sparta pride. The older brother was named as Makhulu aka Big Mak and others were named as Dreadlocks due to the presence of dreadlocks in his mane, Prettyboy due to his handsome looks, Rasta aka Red, Kinky Tail aka Shaka and Mr.T aka Short mane. All of them were sired by West Street males except younger Kinky Tail and Mr.T. It has been believed that the younger Mapogos were sired by Rollercoaster males. Makhulu was the half brother of the other Mapogos. The older Makhulu joined the Sparta pride in 2002. Although initially harassed by Sparta lionesses and barely tolerated by West Street males, Makhulu proved to be the valuable asset to them. Thanks to the Makhulu, his fathers were not overthrown by other lion coalitions including Split Rock males. Right from the young age Kinky Tail and Mr.T had a special bonding which would spell the fate of the Mapogo coalition in future.
After the death of last West Street male “Broken Nose”, they went to nomadic life for two years. Those two years proved crucial for them. They had a very tough life as nomads, because they were always under the threat of resident dominant males. They had few close encounters with the dominant males, but they managed to survive. But these hardships made them strong and they became very good hunters. They became well known for taking down buffaloes, hippos, young rhinos and giraffes. According to David Salmoni, “the buffalo hunting was the key to their success which made them very strong lions”.
In 2006, the Mapogos took their first step towards the domination of the Sabi Sands. And this marked the beginning of the era of the age of extra-violence. They challenged the northern coalition which was the coalition of four lions in northern Sabi Sands. The northern coalition had no answer to these aggressive warriors (some referred them as bandits). One of the member of the northern coalition was mauled to death. And rest of the members fled the region. This made them the masters of the northern Sabi Sands.
In late 2007, they attacked the dominant male of Kahuma Pride ‘Blondie’, and paralyzed him by breaking his back. Dozie, brother of Blondie, came to the rescue, but Mapogos were too much for him to handle. He escaped the certain death by running away.
In the quest for dominance, Mapogos decimated the lion population of Sabi Sands and conquered much of the Sabi Sands (estimated 70000 ha.). This brutal conquest caused the death of 40 lions including cubs and lionesses. They were seeming invincible and had 8 Prides under their control.
After 2008, the Mapogos were splitted into two groups. The older four Mapogos stayed in Western Sabi Sands. The younger Kinky Tail and Mr.T moved to eastern sector and were known as Mlowathi males. Despite being only two, they successfully dominated and defended their territory for two years. They acted as bulwark against the nomadic lions who were threat to their dominance and dealt the threat ruthlessly. Their extra aggressive behaviour thwarted the challenging nomadic lions and made it possible for the western Mapogos lead a peaceful life. Everything was going well for the duos, but the day came which spelled the beginning of the end of the dominance of Mapogos.
In 2010, a new coalition of five lions entered their territory. The Mlowathis located the single young male of that coalition and killed him in a gruesome manner. On the same day, Kinky Tail was pinned down by four remaining brothers and met a vicious death. Mr.T arrived and tried to rescue his brother, but it was too late. After getting some serious beating, Mr.T was chased by four lion who later known as Majingilanes.
On the same year, Dreadlocks was poached and Rasta disappered in a mysterious way. Some claim that Majingilanes got him killed and some experts, seriously doubt it. But whatever be the reason for Rasta’s disappearance, Mapogos were down to three from six. They were able to hold on the western territory for two more years until they were over thrown by Selati males in 2012. By this time, Mapogos were very aged and it was inevitable that they will be overpowered by young coalition. Selatis killed Mr.T and took control of the Mapogo territory. Makhulu and Prettyboy became nomads. They left the territory and entered the Kruger National Park. Prettyboy died earlier than Makhulu and he was last sighted on April of 2013.
But its unfortunate that there is no male offsprings of Mapogo left and their bloodline came to an abrupt end in Sabi Sands eventhough they were able to conquer much of the Sabi Sands. But they will be remembered forever as long as we keep them in our memory.
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