Sighting: Battle of the two Kings
Location: Kings Pool Camp, Linyanti, Botswana
Photographs: Callum Sargent
The Kings Pool resident male lion, Romeo, has become famous and well-loved for his vain tendencies – he patrols his territory and devotes time and energy to preserving his perfect, unscarred appearance and wooing the females of the area. Guests adore his majestic looks and his fondness for the camera, and he is forgiven for his somewhat cowardly habits of running in the opposite direction when the Selinda Boys venture over into his domain.
It came as a huge surprise, then, when one morning recently the radio lit up with reports of a bleeding and badly injured Romeo, and furthermore, another male lion – dead.
After months of teasing Romeo for his vanity, it seemed that he had proven us all wrong. In what appeared to be a landslide victory, Romeo had killed one of the Selinda Boys in the night. The dead male lion lay on his side, and it was only the damage to his face that revealed Romeo’s method of attack- he had suffered a swift blow to the head and had most likely been suffocated by the so-called ‘docile’ resident male.
The victor was not unscarred, however, and lay nearby looking very sorry for himself and licking his paw, which appeared to have suffered a severe puncture wound. Over the next few days, Romeo did not stray far from the remains of his adversary, and the vultures began to close in on the dead lion.
OD, one of the Kings Pool guides, witnessed some fascinating behaviour when two lionesses caught the scent of the dead lion whilst walking near the river. They cautiously approached, with an adolescent male following behind, and appeared to be ‘stalking’ the carcass. Suddenly, they stopped, and seemed very frightened as they identified the scent as belonging to one of the Selinda males; not realising that he was dead, they turned abruptly and ran in the opposite direction. Romeo tried to follow, moaning after them with pitiful contact calls, but they did not even glance back, too terrified to risk an encounter with a male who may well have been responsible for the deaths of their two young cubs.
All in all, the event made for some very interesting interaction amongst the lions. We are pleased to report that Romeo is on the mend and back to his usual, self-indulgent patrols around the concession.
A final note: The other member of the Selinda Boys is still missing and has not been seen for some time – perhaps he has also fallen to the Kings Pool King?