Sabi Sand Reserve & Its Lion Coalition Are Unheard Of In Recorded History

Sabi Sand Reserve

Here is a story about just how much unity can be fatal. Between 2006 and 2012, the Sabi Sand Reserve in South Africa was under the bloody rule of the most brutal lion coalition that Africa has ever known: the legendary Mapogo coalition.

Five of them were born between 2000 and 2002 in the same pride, while another one, the older Makolo, was adopted by the pride. To clarify: A group of four males is already considered very large, and this combination is not only exceptional, but also unheard of.

After being exiled from their pride in 2004, they spent two years in a vicious cycle: the very fact that they were a rare and cohesive group allowed them to hunt large prey like buffalo, hippos, young rhinos and even giraffes. This only contributed to their monstrous development; they could continue to hunt large prey regularly.

In 2006, they began taking over other prides, killing male and female offspring as opposed to driving them out. Not only that; they would kill puppies as well and often tear their bodies apart. They were so wild that they would kill females who had already been able to feed them. This was something never before seen, and there was no rational explanation for it other than uncontrolled hormones.

Sabi Sand Reserve

The estimate is that, during their takeover, they killed at least 40 lions, with some claiming that number to be no less than a hundred, all within a year. At their peak, they dominated 8 different prides in an area of ​​five former territories. To put this in perspective, their empire encompassed an area seven times larger than Manhattan, or, in short, most of the Sabi Sand Reserve. No other lion or pride had ever achieved such a rule.
The coalition began to crack in 2010, some four years after they established their rule. It turns out that their very existence led to the emergence of other coalitions, no less menacing than their own. 3 of them died that year in battles, and their area of ​​control got significantly smaller.

Sabi Sand Reserve

After a short reign, in 2012, Mr. T – perhaps the most famous lion not from a Disney movie – was also killed. His death finally drove the remaining two males into nomadic life. This occurrence often symbolizes a lion’s twilight after years of rule. For the sake of comparison, male lion rule typically lasts between two and three years.

In January 2013, only one of them was left standing: Makolo, the adopted, dominant and oldest son, who was about 15 years old at the time. His age was also one of the highest recorded among lions roaming the wilderness. His death was never recorded in any part of the Sabi Sand Reserve, however.

Sabi Sand Reserve

What is the message? A strong unity creates empires. But, empires also fall. And if that happens slowly, then it will most certainly always occur with lots of blood, claws and teeth. When you think about it, it sounds very similar to many past empires of the human world, doesn’t it?