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30 January, 2024
| Royal Malewane

The Lions of Royal Malewane: Tales of Majesty and Mystery

Written by: The Royal Portfolio
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In the heart of the African wilderness, where untamed beauty meets the rhythms of nature, the lions of Royal Malewane have carved out their kingdoms. Their stories – marked by rise and fall, togetherness and solitude – are woven into the very fabric of this magnificent landscape.

The history of the lions of Royal Malewane begins soon after the fences separating the reserve from Kruger National Park were dropped. The lioness who became known as the Black Dam female moved across with her three cubs (two males and a female). Thus family of four were our first lions.
The two males grew up – and grew very large indeed. One was killed in 2020, and you can now see his massive skull in the Timbavati Museum. To date, he is the third largest lion ever recorded in the area.

As a guest at Royal Malewane, you have the extraordinary privilege of witnessing the fascinating and sometimes ruthless dynamics of lion prides up close. Join us as we reveal the intriguing world of the Greater Kruger’s apex predators, and uncover why observing their interactions is one of the most captivating wildlife experiences you could hope to have.

The Prides of Royal Malewane

Monwana Pride

For over three decades, the Monwana Pride has held territory in the northern reaches of the reserve. This formidable pride currently boasts 19 individuals and is safeguarded by the renowned Mapoza, a male who is holding his own despite being under intense pressure from surrounding coalitions of males.

Avoca Pride

After establishing their territory around Malewane Lodge and Farmstead over the last two years, the beautiful Avoca females have welcomed a new generation of cubs fathered by the Black Dam Coalition.

Guernsey Male and Guernsey Pride

The Guernsey Male, an imposing nomad, recently lost his partner, leaving him as a solitary traveller. The Guernsey Pride is a relatively new presence in the reserve and consists of three females protected by the Black Dam Coalition.

Black Dam Coalition

Originating in the Black Dam Pride, these four males made their way to Royal Malewane in 2021. Today, they protect both the Avoca and Guernsey Prides, and their powerful, steadfast presence promises a secure future for these lionesses and their cubs.


Mapoza’s journey is a testament to the power of resilience. Born into the Giraffe Pride, far from Royal Malewane, his life took a dramatic turn when he suffered a severe injury during a giraffe hunt. This brave lion endured a challenging recovery, marked by traumatic glaucoma in one eye, and eventually found his rightful place in the heart of our territory.

Ecological Significance

The lions of Royal Malewane are much more than iconic apex predators; they are also vital to the health of the Greater Kruger ecosystem. They play an essential role in maintaining the ecological balance within this wild environment, with their presence contributing to the preservation of biodiversity and making Royal Malewane a thriving habitat for all species.

The Importance of an Open System

Royal Malewane’s unique position, free from fences between the reserve and Kruger National Park, allows lions to move at will. This facilitates dispersal, genetic diversity and natural behaviour patterns. The absence of barriers also helps to foster a harmonious coexistence between the lions of Royal Malewane and the broader wilderness.

Lion Dynamics Over Time

The dynamics of lion prides at Royal Malewane have evolved over the years. Previously dominated by the Monwana and Black Dam prides, the reserve now hosts a more diverse lion population. The arrival of the Avoca Pride and the Black Dam Coalition has added layers of complexity and intrigue to this ever-changing story.

Notable Lion Sightings

While the tales of Royal Malewane’s lions continue to unfold, recent sightings have provided unique insights. One such occasion involved an Avoca lioness with two small cubs, a male and a female, at a buffalo carcass. Bringing the cubs to the site of a kill was risky, as other, hostile lions could also be attracted by the chance of a meal. Unfortunately, the risk did not pay off, and only the female cub survived. The mysteries of the wild are woven from moments of triumph and tragedy, reminding us that life is fragile, and often hangs in the balance.


The lions of Royal Malewane are enigmatic storytellers, shaping the narratives of this untamed land. Their resilience, adaptability, and complex social structures offer guests awe-inspiring glimpses into the circle of life in the wild. As you embark on your safari adventure, keep an eye out for these majestic creatures, for every lion sighting is an encounter with the wild soul of Africa, etched into the history of Royal Malewane.

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