Sohebele Tragedy

By Kings Camp Team on July 26, 2009

Early in the morning on the 14th of July at about 4:30am I heard 3 male lions roaring to the south of Kings Camp. I knew they were close. Very close but they weren‘t calling from the same place. It appeared from the calls that there were two males calling together from the south of our camp and the third male further east. The two males were communicating to their other brother after their evening patrol of their territory.

Early in the morning on the 14th of July at about 4:30am I heard 3 male lions roaring to the south of Kings Camp. I knew they were close. Very close but they weren‘t calling from the same place. It appeared from the calls that there were two males calling together from the south of our camp and the third male further east. The two males were communicating to their other brother after their evening patrol of their territory.

We knew that the calls came from the 3 Timbavati Males the dominant male lions of the southern sector of the Timbavati game reserve.

These Boys are enormous and yet are still quite young. They were born to the Timbavati pride in the northern part of the reserve in 2004. Over the past 13 months or so they have been making quite a presence in our traversing area. The males have fathered the new Machaton cubs by mating with the young Machaton lioness. The cubs our now about 3.5 – 4 months old and are starting to become really relaxed with our vehicles and their playful antics provide our guests with incredible moments on their safari!

The roaring continued until about 7:30 that morning and Morné and myself headed out from Kings Camp and Waterbuck Camp respectively in search of the Boys! I started heading east away from camp in search of the lone male but about 10 minutes later Morné called me on our private channel. He had found the Sohebele pride really close to our camp. This pride suffered the loss of one of the adult females not too long ago when three nomadic male lions attacked the pride and killed her.

The Sohebeles were looking very thin although they had a bit of blood on their faces. They are taking immense strain with out the other adult lioness being around to help hunt. They probably had fed during the night although on only something small like a young impala as they weren‘t full at all!

After watching them groom each other for awhile we carried on our search for the Timbavati Males. We didn‘t have any luck although there were a lot of tracks in the area of the brothers. We got side tracked with a group of white rhinos that I had never seen before. That‘s the great thing about the Timbavati. Its so vast and sharing unfenced boundaries with the Kruger National Park, Klaserie and Umbabat private game reserves we have such immense movement of animals between the different areas and we get to see new animals all the time. There were 2 females, a youngster and a large male in this crash of rhinos.

Suddenly another Guide, from Motswari, Chad came on the radio reporting the Sohebeles feeding on a buffalo bull about 100m from where Morné and I had left them earlier on. I immediately started making my way into the area and approached the sighting cautiously. I have never seen the Sohebeles on a buffalo kill and though that they had made the kill themselves as it was a very fresh kill.

Suddenly Chad and I noticed a large male lion stalking up to 3 of the Sohebele sub adults feeding on the dead buffalo. It was one of the Timbavati males! The Sohebeles were so engrossed in their free meal that they only noticed the big male when it was too late! It appeared that the buffalo had been killed by the Timbavati males early in the morning. It appeared that the Sohebele pride had stumbled onto the kill after the males had left it unattended to continue the last of their territorial patrols. This was a short lived bonus as the free meal would have done them a world of good.

The attacker came in so fast and managed to make a violent contact with one of the sub adults asserting his dominance very vocally!! It was an extraordinary sighting showing the amazing raw strength of an adult male lion!

Unfortunately one of the other Timbavati Males managed to get hold of the young Sohebele lioness and with one swift yet powerful bite crushed her neck and killed her.

The Sohebele pride suffered one tragedy after other and it will be interesting to see if they manage to recover from the lost of two females.

As guides in this beautiful part of Africa we get emotionally attached to the animals that we view. We see them every day whilst out on safari, we watch them grow, we watch them play and lastly we watch them try and survive in a brutal wilderness. You can‘t help becoming besotted with them but you have to bear in mind that it is nature‘s way and you cannot interfere. We are just mere visitors to their Eden.

Andrew Aldo De Luca

Kings Camp Guide
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17 thoughts on “Sohebele Tragedy

  1. great story, it was an amazing sighting, and one i wont forget in a hurry, but the tragic ending was not an easy one to accept…especially not as it was the second tragedy in as many months…let us just hope that the Sohebele pride can keep it together and make it through the rest of the year without any other losses, so that all the guests visiting the Timbavati can enjoy them…

  2. Can’t quite believe this further tragedy. We also are privileged to see these magnificent animals on a fairly regular basis- have been looking at my photos today, especially those of the fantastic old Sohebele male – nature can seem so cruel, survival of the fittest. Take care all.

  3. It has certainly been an emotional season at Kings given the passing of Mangajane and now the series of losses from the Shobele pride. What a difference a year can make!

    Lost but not forgotten . . .


  4. Chad, I have fixed Andrew’s video. You should be able to view now without any problems. It just haden’t been converted into the correct video format for the blog.

  5. What an amazing story and video! This year has certainly been an eventful one I am grateful to be able to relive my time there through your stories and photos.

  6. I miss the cmp so much, twas a year ago today we left africa, i will never be the same. Patrick, I am collecting some funds for your Xmas party this year, How will be the best way to send it to you. Please respond ASAP as I would lke to get it off to you. tell my finger licking guide i miss him, hope the litle girl is doing well.

  7. Gosh that poor pride that has to survive without two older females that always helped with the hunting. Guess thats natures course hay. Great story Andrew.

  8. Andrew. Wow what a sighting and how sad but you are right nature is nature and you put it so beautifully that we are just visitors to their Eden. Can’t wait to come back soon. Karen

  9. Gosh, not again. Nature is so necessary and yet so so cruel. Let keep everything crossed that whats left of the pride can try and stick together. Its an amazing video but at the same time so sad. You can’t help but fill up with tears.

    Love to you all,

  10. Hi to all that view this video

    We were on Chad’s vehicle when this amazing event took place.Life is tough,life in the bush is very very tough,but that’s the way of Africa.This was the most unbelievable experience and we are so fortunate to have been a part of it,something that most bush and Africa lovers will never see.The male lion stopped a few feet from Kathy on it’s way back chasing the female and stopped and stared into her eyes,blood dripping from its eye teeth,she was mesmerised.This was an absolute life changing sight.Thanks Chad and Andrew

  11. Hi everyone!! Thank you so much for adding all your wonderful comments! Africa is a cruel yet awe inspiring place! I grew up coming to the Timbavati to my grandfather’s farm here which we still have! Africa has an interesting habit of creeping into your soul. Its slow at first, a feeling you only realize once its too late. Once Africa has engulfed and taken over your soul you have had it! There is no stopping it. Your passion will grow and grow with every visit until your heart beats and beats the rhythm of Africa.

    I have added some B+W images of the Male after he had killed the young female still with her blood on his face!

    In the words of Robert Rauk reminiscing about Africa. "I will never forget it. I never did"!! Rauk was a famous figure in East Africa during Hemingways era.

    Africa is in my veins and flows through me!

  12. Here Here Andrew . . . could not have said it better! Thanks for sharing the video . . . I live vicariously through these blogs as Africa runs through my veins too.



  13. It was amazing, we were also on the vehicle, and will never forget that naturally bad very sad moment.

    My children ,visiting us from Germany, where also very impressed.

    Thanks Chad for charing with us the time and the expierence to dicover and understand (a little bit) the real nature


  14. Andrew,your words couldn’t be truer!!

    I had the amazing privilege of spending 3 years growing up in Southern Africa – and that was all it took – Africa is in your viens. I just was looking back at our experience at Kings camp this morning (Northern British Columbia, Canada) and am truly wishing I was there for the early ride. I can smell the air and here the sounds.

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