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RIP – Kinky Tail: A dream once… now a nightmare!

Anonymous's picture
RIP – Kinky Tail: A dream once… now a nightmare!

Kinky TailWorking at Nkorho Bush Lodge for the last 7 years, I am living the dream of millions of people, right over the world!  How do you describe living in the bush? …Remote… lonely sometimes… but blessed with so many things you can never find in “ordinary life”.  Life is a journey, and living in the bush is like going to a dream destination everyday of your life… maybe not always easy and rosy, but there is always the beauty in something you see, smell or hear, to make up for the difficulties you may experience.  Seeing the beauty and wonder of Mother Nature… and on the other side the reality too… the cruel and brutal side of it! So many times I sat thinking by myself… How must it be, seeing male Lions fighting…the power and strength… ?  For years I have been wishing to see it one day! This is exactly what I experienced on Tuesday, 8 June 2010!  As they say… be careful what you wish sometimes!

I have seen so many great sightings over the years… and also some sad ones.  Animals being injured or killed, the sad ending of the life of a big Elephant bull… dying slowly as we could only watch in helplessness… but nothing could prepare me, for what I was about to witness on that specific day!

With great excitement I got the news of Lions walking over our open area early that morning. It was the young males that came into our area recently.  They were feeding on a Buffalo kill north of Nkorho the previous day and must have moved onto our property during the night. Hot on their heels were Mr T and Kinky Tail following them to the north away from Nkorho. The message came over the radio about the 2 Mapogo males moving onto Nkorho property again.  After spending some time with 2 other vehicles watching them, I was left alone with the Mapogos.  They were on a mission, and the words of Greg, a friend and ranger of a neighbouring lodge earlier the morning, went through my mind… “Karin, today we are going to have a war…”  They were sniffing, scent marking, walking in circles all the time.  They left me guessing and confused from time to time… what are they up to?  Losing visual of them and having 2 rangers responding and on their way, I had to try my luck and take another road to try and relocate them.  Coming around a bend I suddenly saw a male Lion lying in tall grasses just off the road.  My first thought was that it might be one of the Mapogos… seconds later I was proven very wrong!  Mr T and Kinky Tail came charging out the bushes in front of me.  Then I knew… Greg was spot on… This could only mean trouble! The other male tried to hide by putting his head very low and lay flat … They first ran past my vehicle that was parked a few metres away from the other male, but they came to a sudden halt and turned around.  In a flash the young male jumped up and the Mapogos followed him with one thing in mind… to hunt down and destroy…  Just as this all started the other vehicles arrived on the scene just in time to see this frightening event unfolding .  The battle started with the most terrifying growls and roaring… I could not believe my eyes and ears… the fierce power and fearlessness, the power and will to survive… two against one, but the young male did not give up easily and every now and again he surprised us all by showing his power by fighting back.  Unfortunately he was badly injured and could no longer defend himself.  Mr T started announcing their triumph by roaring and sending the message over the African Savannah!  With bloody faces, new scars and swollen legs and paws their tired bodies needed a rest and they lay down in the shade guarding their victim for the rest of the day…

Just as it got dark, we found the rest of the young coalition lying north of our open area.  In stead of 5 Lions, now there were only four.  Not sure if they knew exactly what happened to their brother.  After watching them for a while, walking down the road we left them as we returned to the lodge… hoping that they move away from the Mapogos, as we really did not want to have another fight… Later on the 4 males started calling… Our greatest fear was about to happen.  During dinner time all hell broke loose and they took on one another. Loud roars and growls filled the air… Looking out my door trying to find out what was going on, I saw Jason.   All excited he came running towards my door, shouting “ Karin, come!! They are fighting! “  Jumping in the vehicles we followed them and watched the Lions charging over the open area, through the dry riverbed and then chasing down the road.  Not far away the 4 males got hold of Kinky Tail … This is where the real war and nightmare started!  It was 4 against one, as Mr T was nowhere to be seen…  They pinned him down and the fight was getting fierce and gruesome.  The sounds of immense power filled the African skies… It cuts like a knife through your body…  I was shocked to the bone…how could this be happening??  Suddenly Mr T appeared from the dark, charging into the hot action without any fear, in desperation to try and defend his brother.  Proud, powerful and fearless he gave it his everything but they were just too strong and he was hurt.  He turned tail and fled to save his own life… the 4 males chasing him down the road for a few hundred metres.  Running and roaring he disappeared deep into the darkness…

The 4 males returned then to a badly injured Kinky Tail were they showed him no mercy and finished him off…  Sending a message of dominance and power they started roaring, like only the King of the Animal Kingdom can…  The roars filling my body with fear, disgust but also respect for this powerful, majestic animal…  Roars of triumph and dominance vibrating deep into the night…  An era just came to an end… the ruling of the Mapogos, Mr T and Kinky Tail is no more… new blood, new rulers…

Now very uncertain of what the future holds for the Lion population of the Northern Sabi Sand Game Reserve… The life of a legendary Lion came to an end… RIP Kinky Tail.  You will be missed… we were so fortunate spending time with you until the last… You died bravely, fighting till the end!


Written by Karin - Nkorho Bush Lodge

Zoogirl67's picture

It touched my heart to read

Frown It touched my heart to read about this horrible moment. I volunteer as a guide at Monarto Zoo in Australia and you can't help but get attached to the animals you watch often. It must have been a sad moment to see that unfold. Nature can be harsh.

marloth's picture

Hi Karen, Being lucky enough

Hi Karen, Being lucky enough to spend 3 nights at Arathusa in April, I got to know Mr T and Kinky Tail quite well as we saw them often. I heard a lot of stories about them and Mr T was already battered and bruised from a recent fight. I was very sad to hear of Kinky Tails passing as he is currently the screen saver on my PC. Have you any idea of the whereabouts and condition of Mr T. Really keen to hear.



RogerH's picture

Thank you Karin, for this,

Thank you Karin, for this, and for all the posts you made before, during and after the war.  We see these events through your eyes, lady, and you'll never know how much we appreciate you!

Member of the All Critters, Large And Small (Except Olive Toads) Fan Club. Seen so far, ellie, rhino, buffalo, zeb, wildee, baboons, warthogs, giraffe, impala, lion, kudu, hyena, jackal, monkey, mongoose, leopard, hippo, lots of birds.

tinanz's picture

Beautiful and sad

Beautiful and sad story!!!   Cry

Thank-you Smile

Jenette's picture

Hi Karin. I have just

Hi Karin. I have just stumbled upon your blog and really love reading it. You are definitely living the dream of many of us. I live in South Africa so am very lucky to experience our beautiful wildlife as often as possible. As much as I would love to be you, I don't think I could handle seeing the "bad stuff" it is too heartbreaking. Thanks for what you are doing and look forward to readin your next blog.

jabber43's picture

 Excellent written Karin. I


Excellent written Karin. I too can relate to your emotions and the excitement watching the events you have shared with us. It is one thing to sit at home and watch the various programs about the wildlife in Africa, how each animal full-fills its need for food and in the case of Lions how the males need to ensure their dominance in the Pride. After being on a 15 day safari with numerous game drives, the wife and I were actually able to witness 5 different lion take downs and kills. The sight of this was exciting but also sad seeing another animal giving up it's life so others may survive. This was Mother Nature at her best in the wild. Again THANK YOU for sharing your story with all of us.

Lea's picture

WOW...What an experience you

WOW...What an experience you had Karin.  I cannot imagine what that would be like.  Just hearing the lions roar on cam is powerful, but fighting and roaring right next to you must be scary.  Thank you for sharing your experience with us.  RIP Kinky Tail....


sly's picture

What a week,

What a week, must still be reeling.  Thanks so much for sharing with us your thoughts, your perspective and your firsthand report.  PHEW!  Amazing...and no doubt a bit terrifying.

SueW's picture

Thank you, Karin, for the

Thank you, Karin, for the details that we did, yet didn't, want to know!

eiguoc's picture

Thank you for posting about

Thank you for posting about this. It was nerve racking to read about it. Even though these two were the "Bad Boys" I think they were still loved & respected by all. They did what lions do. I think I would have been petrified to be out there with them, especially at night during this terrible battles. But such is life in the African bush as in any wilds anywhere.

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