Friday, 3 December 2010

Machaton Pride

Name: The Machaton Pride is named after the Machaton Riverbed that meanders through the eastern part of their territory.

Current Pride Composition: The pride consists of 3 adult lionesses, 2 adult males (Timbavati males), and the one female had a litter of four cubs in August 2010.

Territory: This is the southern pride in our area, and spend most of their time on the properties of Tanda Tula and Kings, centring much of their activity around Machaton Dam. The pride also frequents Umlani and further south into Liebenberg and Tawane. To the west they occasionally cross into the Klaserie, while in the east they do move into Ceylon from time to time. The pride also occasionally visits Vielmetter and even further north into Java. The pride has also reportedly been found near Voel Dam in the very north! This however was man years ago.

(click on map for larger view)
Males: The Timbavati males have been in control of the pride since the middle of 2008 and have sired a couple of litters of cubs that have sadly not made it to maturity. Prior to the arrival of these males, the Machaton male was almost seen as the ‘pride male’, despite the fact he was born into the pride and just never left; this meant that he was mating with his mother and sisters! This male is almost a mirror image of his father, the Sohebele male, who used to control the pride along with his brother.

Females: The lineage of the Machaton Pride is a long one, and they were first made famous when Chris McBride discovered them with white lion cubs in the 1970s. They have remained territorial in the area since then, but almost seem to be at a low point over the last 4 or 5 years, as they have not had any luck in raising any cubs, and as such have not been able to grow the pride. They gained a lioness at the end of 2009 when a long lost pride member returned, but this had no sooner happened when the Xakubasa lionesses seriously injured one of the old Machaton lionesses; she later died of from the injuries.


January 2011 - 5 cubs born (sex to be determined)

August 2010 – 4 cubs born (4 male)

April 2009 – 3 cubs born (all died by early 2010)

2006 – 1 young male cub survived to independence (young Machaton male) – his sister was killed by Timbavati Pride in 2007.

Neighbouring Prides: The Machaton Pride has no stable northern neighbours, but the Xakubasa Pride roams the area to the north and overlap slightly on Vielmetter and Kings. To the east, a large pride very occasionally moves in from Ceylon, and to the west the Ross Pride is making more frequent voyages into the Machaton territory. The southern neighbours are unknown.

Story: The Machaton pride have been a constant presence in the area for many decades, but due to their territory falling mostly south of our full-traversing area, we only normally get to see them when we are invited down by the southern lodges, or when the pride is kind enough to move northwards and spend time on Vielmetter.

One of the disappointing aspects of this pride is the fact that their track record with raising cubs lately has been very poor, and they haven’t raised a single cub to maturity in the since the one young male cub born in 2006 made it to adulthood, but being a male, he naturally left the pride and began the solitary stage of his life which will continue until he is old enough and large enough to take control of a pride of his own. This step towards independence for this young male was also forced on him when the three Timbavati males moved into the southern area as a relatively young coalition themselves. These young males did their best to chase the young male out of the pride, but he was persistent and took many a beating before he felt comfortable leaving the females and going on his own. Despite being almost 4 years old, even as late as early 2010, he would still associate with the Machaton lionesses when he bumped into them, before once more leaving to wander around on his own and avoid other potential threats.

The presence of three strong males in control of a pride should provide a good protective environment that allows for the successful raising of cubs, as these males should easily be able to chase off most other male lion challenges on the pride. The lionesses are good hunters and regularly get large meals and provide food regularly, but they just have not had the necessary luck to raise any of their cubs. Its maybe not a new phenomenon, as in October 2006, one of the lionesses of the Machaton Pride gave birth to two white lion cubs, and had them hidden in the dry Zebanine Riverbed, but after only one viewing, the cubs were not seen again, and it almost appeared as if the mother abandoned them. Now this special birth is potentially significant for the fact that it reveals that the white lion gene is still very much alive and well within the Machaton pride. All they need to potentially produce some more white lion cubs, is a male that also carries the gene. The Timbavati males were born into the Jacaranda pride, and their mother later gave birth to white lion cubs, as did their sister from the Timbavati Pride. It therefore stands to reason that there is a very good chance that at least one of the Timbavati males is also the carrier of this recessive gene, and if they remain in control of the Machaton Pride for the next couple of years, there is a good chance that some white lions will again be born to this pride.

One of the younger females of the pride currently has for tawny cubs, born in August 2010, and we are all holding thumbs that they are going to be able to raise at least some of these cubs to adulthood to increase the size of this pride and strengthen their position in the south.

Interesting News: 

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