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Whatever happened to the lionesses with manes

Lioness with Mane

A few months ago I posted a story with pictures about female lions with manes. The lionesses I wrote of were all seen at Mombo, in the Okavango Delta.

Since then I have visited Mombo again, and was lucky enough to encounter the pride with the unusual lionesses. However, I only had one brief sighting of the lioness, so the images I have included with this text are not great pictures, but they illustrate her size and features.

Unfortunately there are no longer two of these maned lionesses in the pride. One of the females was killed, apparently in the course of hunting buffalo, which is a dangerous pastime for lions whether they are equipped with a mane or not.

Lioness with Mane

The remaining lioness has grown bigger, and much heavier than the last time I saw her, which was almost a year back. Her mane has grown too, which makes her look even more like a male. I was most interested to hear from the Mombo camp guides that the pride males for this group of females, a pair of males known as the Western Boys, no longer spend much time with them. We have assumed that the Western Boys fathered the two maned lionesses. The Western Boys are a fine-looking coalition pair of males, and they are now consorting with another female pride, still in the Mombo area. Below is a picture of the two Western Boys.

Lioness with Mane

There is a new male with the Western Boys former pride though. Unfortunately, he was not around whilst I was there. News from the Mombo guides is that this male has taken to attacking the maned lioness, and attempts to chase her away from her female pride mates. He is apparently viewing her as a potential rival for mating rights. I did notice a well-healed scar on her neck during the sighting, which may have come from such a clash.

If this lioness has a normally functioning reproductive system, perhaps powerful chemical cues will override the male’s objection to her as it is now. Time will tell.

Lioness with Mane

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I am a South African who grew up in the former Transkei, (now the Eastern Cape) and I spent much of my time along the Wild Coast. For over ten years I have been working as a guide in northern Botswana, for a company called Wilderness Safaris. I spend many days of each year leading photographic safari trips with small groups of people through our fixed camps in the Kalahari, Okavango, Linyanti and Savuti regions, mostly. My special interests are birds, lions and photography, in no special order. When I am not guiding in the field, I take part in some of our companies environmental projects. Botswana is a country with a solid conservation ethic, and I am fortunate to be able to share some of what I do and see by means of my writing and my images. Visit my photography page