Meet the Spooner Males

About a year ago when I first laid eyes on these two majestic male lions, it felt like I could hear a pin drop. Everything went silent (well, in my head anyway) and you could feel the confidence radiating from them. It was incredibly intimidating to say the least!

“Byron, you’re allowed to breathe hey.”

This coalition of two brothers who are about 8-9 years old and in their prime, are known as the ‘Spooner Males’. They earned the name through their reputation of mating with lionesses from multiple prides. Yes, it’s true. I cannot count how many times we’ve seen them courting a lioness away from her pride to carry out their number one priority… to mate and propagate their genes.

Spooners2017 (5 of 15)
There often seems to be a ‘pretty boy’ of a coalition, with a cleaner face and a perfectly groomed mane. We’ve started referring to this brother as the ‘Comb-over male’.

When these two studs aren’t doing what they do best, they will often be seen walking long distances alone, scent marking and patrolling their territory. They protect what I believe is most of the Western side of Pilanesberg National Park where we see them with at least three different prides, small and large. Last week, on an early morning drive we witnessed one of the brothers embark on a 8-10km march and was still going when we left him!

The next morning the handsome fellas were together again, and yes, you guessed it… they were mating again. These boys are fit, considering how far they can travel in a night and that a honeymoon couple will mate for around 4 days and nights, copulating every 15-20 minutes on average.

Spooners1 (1 of 1)
The less fortunate brother has certainly been on the receiving end of a few sharp claws. His mo-hawked mane matches those scars well too.

Sightings of these two are very different when compared to other dominant males in the Pilanesberg. This is most likely a result of the Spooner Males’ large territory and the busy lifestyle that it brings. For example, the two dominant males of the Central Pride spend a lot more time with the pride and have also allowed young males to stick around much longer than what the books will tell you (as long as they behave submissively).

The Spooner males have a certain ruthlessness and intensity about them. I am rather fortunate to see them regularly as all of my game drives happen to venture right through the heart of their territory. Over the past year, I’ve managed to rack up a few photographs of the boys!

Here is a selection of photographs with a short description of what was happening at the time of them being taken:

Spooners2017 (15 of 15)
The ‘Mo-hawk male’ teams up with a lioness of the Western Pride to chase off a young foreign lioness, who was trespassing on their turf. We lost sight of them as they continued far into a dense thicket..
Spooners2017 (11 of 15)
Feasting on a free meal in the form of a rhino carcass. Lions, especially males, will often scavenge when the opportunity comes their way.
Spooners2017 (8 of 15)
The Flehmen Grimace is what you will often see when a lion (and many other mammals) are testing a scent very closely. In the case of male lions, it’s usually to determine the sexual status of a lioness… These two do this A LOT!
Spooners4 (1 of 1)
The Mo-hawk male came across another two foreign females in the heart of his territory on this morning. He took off after them and chased them right past our vehicle and continued to impolitely escort them over the hills while roaring intermittently!
Spooners2018 (1 of 6)
The calm after the storm. This was just minutes after the Spooner Males lost their tempers with the females of the Western Pride. We aren’t quite sure what caused this, but fights and squabbles within the pride are actually fairly common.
Spooners2018 (6 of 6)
Everyone get out of the way! Another long territorial patrol. Lions will often use the roads as pathways. It’s just an easy way to get around. Also, it’s quiet!
Spooners2017 (3 of 15)
The Comb-over male listening intently to something in the distance. Lions? We will never know…
Spooners2017 (6 of 15)
Shortly after, he walked off directly to whatever has caught his attention. His eyes were fixed on the hills ahead as he moved through the grass. The kind of intensity that we’ve become used to with these lions.

4 thoughts on “Meet the Spooner Males

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