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Nkuhuma Pride

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Nkuhuma Pride

Nkuhuma Pride

Information/background has been gathered from various sites (Mala Mala, Londolozi, Djuma, Savanna, Nkorho, Elephant Plains, Singita, Exeter, Arathusa, Ulusaba, Inyati, Wildwatch, Idube, Leopard Hills, Simbambili, Wildearth) their sightings databases and/or Rangers and staff answering questions sent their way. Special thank you to Chris Stamper, former Guide at Djuma Game Reserve.

Nkuhuma Pride aka Kuhuma/Koehuma Pride

Little was known of this pride prior to the last quarter of 2006 when they started frequenting Djuma and Buffelshoek most likely coming into the area from Manyeleti Game Reserve/Kruger National Park. When first viewed, they were very skittish and it was hard to tell how many members there were. In the beginning, reports were of 10 lionesses, one young male and two beautiful adult males. Seems one lioness and the young male disappeared early on possibly moving back into their original territory. This left five adult lionesses approximately 6 to 12 yrs of age and four younger lionesses approximately 4 to 5 yrs of age. The two dominant males were believed to be between 8 - 10 yrs old. The lack of any cubs suggested the two adult males had recently taken over the pride.

The Nkuhuma Name - The pride was first named by the Guides and Trackers of the Djuma Game Reserve. On one of the very first sightings of them, they were seen lying near a Brown Ivory tree close to Jordaans Dam in Buffelshoek and the name Nkuhuma, which means Brown Ivory in Shangaan, was given to them.

They are also sometimes referred to as the Kuhuma pride with Kuhuma meaning “come out”. Elephant Plains lists their name as Koehuma and states it means “eight” in Shangaan. Various other spellings of their name may be found also ie Kahuma, Khuma.

December 8-9th 2006 - 5 of the Nkuhuma lionesses attacked and killed one of the two surviving Sandy Patch lionesses. She was last seen feeding on a zebra kill on the 8th and the next morning the 9th, her lifeless body was found not far from where the Nkuhuma pride was found and the tracks told the sad story. The death of this Sandy Patch lioness ultimately resulted in the death of her young cubs as well.

During the first part of 2007, there was literally a cub boom. At one point, it was believed the numbers swelled to upwards of 20 plus cubs for this pride.

The Nkuhuma Pride were seen regularly in Djuma throughout most of 2007. The two dominant males, were called Blondie and Dozie those that got to know them. They soon became a favorite and much loved pride of lions with visitors.

Another favorite character of this pride is Snaggletooth also known as Wonky Jaw. She apparently had a mishap years ago that left her jaw skewed with her right canine protruding at an odd angle up over her lip. She always looks like she is smiling thus some Rangers call her Smiles.


The relatively peaceful life this pride enjoyed continued until December 9th 2007 when Blondie was killed by members of the Mapogo Coaliton. He and his brother, Dozie, had been South of Djuma in Chitwa Chitwa mating with two Styx lionesses. The six Mapogos were in the area and some were attracted to where the Nkuhuma Males were by the territorial roaring of Blondie and Dozie. Arathusa Rangers found 3 of the Mapogos mobile and roaring when they first reached the sighting on their AM drive. They followed the lead male to where two more were found with one of the females the Nkuhuma males had been mating with the previous day. Later on their AM drive after following four Mapogo males as they followed the Styx female around, the four males and one Styx female were found calmly resting in the shade.

Upon their return in the afternoon, they found two of the four Mapogo males mating with two females while keeping the other two at bay. Other reports had indicated that one of the females had fled North with Dozie only to turn around and head back down South and apparently joining the other Styx lioness.

The Arathusa Rangers reported that later into the afternoon drive they came across the severely injured Nkuhuma Male known as Blondie. Blondie was said to be unable to move. Some reports said he was paralyzed. The four Mapogo males were only 200 meters away from where Blondie laid. The next day when the Arathusa Rangers returned to the sighting , they found the “badly mauled remains of the once proud Kuhuma male”.

After Blondie’s death, the pride consisted of nine lionesses, upwards to possibly 20 plus cubs, and Dozie the surviving Dominant Male.

January 12th 2008 - The next devastating blow to this pride came in the early morning hours before dawn on the 12th when five of the Mapogos stealthily came into Djuma and attacked the Nkuhuma pride while they were on a Giraffe kill on the Djuma side of the Buffelshoek Dam. Dozie the dominant male was not with them. Some reports say the Mapogo males were on the scent trail of the lone Sandy Patch lioness and just happened upon the Nkuhuma pride while others speculate they came into the area seeking out the Nkuhumas in an effort to take the pride over.

The results of this attack were not fully known as the Nkuhuma pride fled apparently in all directions but eventually ended up back in Manyeleti. What was known was the death of at least one male cub whose body was found that morning and speculation was that several other cubs were also killed. Over the next few days, reports were coming in of another Nkuhuma lioness injured and cubs lost/separated from the pride. Two lionesses were seen sneaking back into the area searching for lost cubs but had to flee as the Mapogos were still there. With the confusion during the attack, adults and cubs alike running for their lives in every direction, it will probably never be known what the actual toll on the Nkuhuma pride and their cubs was.

By March 13th 2008, the Nkuhumas again felt safe enough to start frequenting the Djuma area. That false sense of security didn’t last long.

*Guests at Djuma had reported awesome sightings on the 11th and 12th of March of Dozie and 9 possibly 10 lionesses with 13 - 14 cubs in attendance (plus there were reports of another two small cubs still at a den site). The guests also reported seeing five of the Mapogo Males near Galago Camp on the night of the 11th.

On the 13th of March, tragedy again struck the Nkuhuma Pride. The Mapogo males had once again attacked the magnificent Nkuhuma pride. Guests reported seeing two lionesses and a single cub running across the road in front of their game vehicle shortly followed by a single very frenzied Mapogo Male. The Nkuhuma trio managed to escape their pursuer. Unfortunately, one lioness did not. Wildearth videos showed the lifeless body of a beautiful lioness laying not far from the road. Rangers and guests reported upon their arrival, one Mapogo male was not far from the dead lioness with a partially eaten cub in his mouth. A short distance further, another Mapogo with a dead cub. In all, it was thought that at least four cubs were killed along with the brave lioness that tried to protect them. Surely, with 5 large males attacking them there must have been more injuries or even deaths within the pride.

After this attack the Nkuhuma pride and their dominant male, Dozie, fled to the North. Sighting reports for them were few and far between. The dominant male was still being seen occasionally coming into Djuma throughout May 2008 and there were other sightings of him for a few months after. Then he just seemed to have vanished. Possibly he went further North or even into the Kruger National Park. As for the rest of the pride, sightings were mostly of 4 to 6 lionesses at a time together with upwards of 8. The cubs were said to be 6 males and 2 females. Possibly more survived and the pride had just split up as some sightings were reporting 5 - 6 cubs seen, with 4 - 5 lionesses.

Snaggletooth survived the attacks and was reported several times to be with the young Manyeleti Males mating in 2008 and at times was accompanied by another lioness. Video footage from Africam:

Lioness @ NK! 8-26-08 video by Scatron

A Nkuhuma lioness was viewed and photographed by Trappies, who was on Safari in July 2008. She was severely injured and limping. Less than two months later, the same lioness was on the verge of death and literally skin and bones. Trappies also saw and photographed Dozie while on his July visit into the area. Dozie was looking as beautiful as ever.

Various reports of the Nkuhuma lionesses and cubs indicate they started moving into some of the Eastern areas and even venturing South. Towards the end of Aug 2008 they were found on a buff carcass South of Nkorho and just North of Mala Mala. It was during this same time period that Mala Mala reported 4 sub adults (2 males and 2 females) believed to be Nkuhuma youngsters on their property close to their Northern border. It was apparent that the lionesses were not too far off as these youngsters were still dependent on their mothers for survival.

Sadly on Aug 31st, one of the sub adult males was again viewed and it became apparent that he was near blind. He was stumbling into bushes, trees and was calling for the rest of his pride. He was not seen again until Sept 5th when it became clear he was totally blind. More than likely he was the victim of a spitting cobra. Due to the sensitive nature of the situation, the sighting was closed. The youngster was estimated to be 15 mos.

It wasn’t long until this unfortunate youngster ran into the Styx Pride and their cubs. He was viciously attacked on two occasions by the lionesses with the second attack being far worse. The Styx Pride left the youngster severely wounded and the Mala Mala Rangers doubted he would last the night. No further information was reported on this youngster but it is almost with certainty that he did not survive.

September 6 2008 - A pride of lions visited the Nkorho Pan and were seen on Africam's live cam. By the size of the pride and their nervousness, it was assumed to be the Nkuhuma Pride. This was just 4 days after they had a run in with the Styx Pride and Two Mapogo Males in Djuma.

Lion Pride at Nkorho 09/06/08

October 29, 2008 - Mala Mala reported the Brown Ivory Pride (Nkuhuma Pride) being into the Northern area of their Reserve. At this sighting, there were four adult lionesses, two sub adult males, and three approximately 10 month old cubs. These numbers, ages and sexes of the sub adults/cubs conflict with other sightings of this pride after the flight from Djuma and the threat of the Mapogo Coalition. This sighting adds credence to the possibility that more of the Nkuhuma Pride may have survived and are moving around the area in smaller core groups.

Video from Africam.

Manyeleti & Nkuhuma 17Nov08 by Sagresta

So what of the Nkuhuma Pride in 2009? They are still seen in Buffelshoek and surrounding areas and are even venturing back into Djuma more frequently.

January 19th, 26th, 28th, & 29th 2009 - The Nkuhuma Pride was seen in Djuma. The sightings consisted of 9 - 10 total members to include a mix of both adult lionesses and sub adults. Snaggletooth was also present on those sightings.

On the 30th of January, five of the Mapogo Coalition to include the dominant older male were seen also. The Nkuhuma pride fled the area again.

March 2nd 2009, Snaggletooth was seen mating again with the Manyeleti Male inside of Buffelshoek. .

More recent sightings included four lionesses (one being Snaggletooth) and five to six sub adults. Of the sub adults, there were 3 males and the others were females. Two of the male sub adults had left hip injuries with one being severe. One of the female sub adults was also seen with a slight limp. The one youngster with the sever hip injury could barely walk when seen on May 5th and it was thought the leg may be broken but by May 7th he was not in as much pain and was putting more weight on the leg. It looked as if his hip may have been dislocated and if so, one can only wonder what the future may hold for him?

May 30th, 2009, Simbambili reports the Nkuhuma Pride has been frequenting their reserve and are one of their star attractions at this time. No reports on the number of the pride members.

We can only hope the number of members being seen on individual sightings do not reflect the actual count for this pride. Hopefully, they are just moving about in smaller core groups and there are indeed more Nkuhuma lionesses and cubs out there surviving.

Update thru October 2010 - The Nkuhuma pride are still being seen on occasions. During the latter part of 2009 and first quarter of 2010, various Nkuhuma lionesses were seen with the two Gijima Males out of Manyeleti. Several sightings of the Gijima males mating with Nkuhuma females were also reported. Snaggletooth was reported to be heavily pregnant early in 2010 but has not been seen since she was believed to have sought out a den site for birthing. Her status is unknown at this time.

A pride of seven (2 adult lionesses, 2 sub adult females and 3 sub adult males) were seen in Djuma/Western Gowrie May 22nd - 25th. One lioness was collared. At first ID'd as the Windmill pride it was later determined the 3 young males were younger than the Windmill males. Some believe this group are actually a split off from the Nkuhuma pride and have been in Manyeleti for the past couple of years. This same pride was seen on the 24th by Nkorho rangers with two other lionesses sharing a kill. A larger young male came in and ran off the seven. The two lionesses that remained on the kill along with the larger male are also said to be a possible split off group from the Nkuhuma pride and some call them the Two plus One pride. If these speculations hold true, they may account for the disappearance of the bulk of the Nkuhuma pride in 2008.

August 8, 2010 - The Nkuhuma core group more often seen in Djuma/Western Gowrie and surrounding areas, were viewed at Gowrie Dam making a kill and within sight of the Vuyatela Lodge. The group consisted of 1 adult female, 2 sub adult females, and 2 sub adult males to include the one with the prominent hind left leg limp. The pride took down a buffalo cow and her calf.

September 5th 2010 - There was a very unusual sighting of the five members of the Styx pride sharing a kill with the two young Nkuhuma males in Western Gowrie. One of the Styx lionesses, thought to be the oldest (Grandma), seemed to be not welcomed at the feeding and was chased away several times. Both the sub adult Styx male and female were allowed to feed along side the two adult Styx lionesses and the two Nkuhuma young males.


There seems to be some confusion in identifying the limping Nkuhuma young male. He is often confused with the older limping Golf Course male that frequents the same areas around Djuma/Gowrie. This video may assist with recognizing the differences between the two lions:


Next comes some amazing information on what happened to the surviving Nkuhuma Dominant male known as Dozie.

UPDATE Oct. 2010 - Dozie the surviving Dominant male from the Nkuhuma pride is Alive! He has been in Manyeleti for the past two years. More of his time there will be shared when it is available. He is known as Mandevu in Manyeleti Reserve. He is now venturing back into the Sabi Sands. He was at Nkorho for a few days the first week of Oct.  Photos at Nkorho Lodge FaceBook page.   Hope we see more of him soon.

Mandevu Nov 09 Photo @Richard Millar Photography :

Nkuhuma Male (from Wildearth blog about Blondie's death posted Tuesday 11 December 2007):

You can see more photos of Mandevu/Dozie in Richard Garnet Millar's Album


Dozie was seen around Nkorho Lodge on Oct 4th. He was quite skinny. He was on a kill that the young lone Styx male had been on earlier. Once he was identified as being Dozie, the story of him being pushed out of Manyeleti by another coalition emerged. Seems in August he had been attacked and severely injured but DID survive. Is he now doomed to be a roaming, non-territorial male? Let's hope not!

Please remember this is a compilation of information gathered from many sources and nothing is set in stone. Corrections/additions will be noted as more information comes forward.

(*Dennis Vohs and party visiting Galago Camp)

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October  2010

By Aquila & Karen in VA

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Added update on confirmation

Added update on confirmation that Dozie, the surviving Dominant male, is alive.

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