Sign up to learn more, visit and buy our coffee

Star-crossed Lovers

April 22, 2013

When we first arrived in Gorongosa some 5 years ago we found two prominent prides that occupied the core area of the public game drive network.  These 2 prides were found to mix and match with a variety of young males, but as is the norm in lion studies (and because girls rule the world), we kept our focus on the girls.  

Photo: By James Byrne


The two prides we loosely termed the “Tripods” and the “Egyptian Ladies”; the former named due to the presence of 2 females both missing a part of their rear leg due to snares, and the latter named due to the lions in this group having some beautiful almond-shaped eyes.  One young female of the Egyptian Ladies, who was a youngster of about 2 or 3 when we first met her, was such a beauty that she was nicknamed Cleo (short for Cleopatra). 

Photo: By James Byrne


There have been various soap operas over the years as these two prides have grown, shrunk, split and interacted – there is something of a Capulet & Montague long-standing feud running between the two groups as they have always been neighbours… in lion-land, good neighbours do not make good friends!   Tripod the Younger had 2 cubs a few years back, two young boys who grew up together and formed a formidable band of brothers.  They were so confident that they were seen chasing off the dominant male coalition in the area (the Brando Brothers) a little over a year ago and have since made the south-central part of the park their own. 

Photo: By James Byrne


One of these 2 boys (Splif & Splof to their friends) has now been seen with the two remaining daughters of Cleo (themselves now all grown up and now referred to as the Sungue Sisters) and is almost certainly the father of their 5 cubs (now around 5-6 months old and split 3 & 2 between the two lionesses – and who all share their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother’s beautiful streaky eyes). 

Photo: By James Byrne


The fact that one of the Tripods (Capulets) has linked up with two of the Egyptians/Sungue Sisters (Montagues) is something to behold and something worthy of a Shakespearian sonnet – especially if taken in context of their current favoured spot on the edge of the floodplain near the old Lion House – a rather poetic setting for a rather poetic soap opera that plays out each day in Gorongosa as the park’s iconic lions rise to the challenge of re-establishing themselves as kings here...


By Rob Janisch

Asilia Africa


Bush Diaries