Busanga Lion Update – “The Sopranos” Meets “Game of Thrones”


Isaac Kalio


The lion dynamics in Kafue’s Busanga Plains are as fraught as ever, particularly now, with the demise of one of the dominant pride males, Nervous, in a legal hunt last month. Shumba guide Isaac Kalio has more…

Scarface, the surviving male of our resident Papyrus Pride, roars all the more loudly these days, to announce his presence and to defend his territory. And as he does so, a number of males are decoding the message that he is now alone.

A former colleague, who works at a newly built lodge nearby, reports that two different coalitions of two have been sighted close to the airstrip, while just today I saw tracks of nomads near the new lodge.

After years of territorial battles among the male lions of the Busanga Plains, last year Scarface and Nervous finally claimed our area as their own, and took over the Papyrus Pride. Now my heart races at the thought of more tension. I’m concerned for the pride, as their cubs are the healthiest and most active we have ever seen. Then, there’s tiny Little Prince, Queen’s newest cub too… the most vulnerable to any nomads moving in and taking over.

In addition, Maggie has been absent for some three-and-a-half weeks, along with her sub-adult cubs, Manyena and Busani, and the younger, four or five-month-old cubs. A fight had broken out between Scarface and Busani, the male sub-adult, which seems to have led to the separation.

According to a report from the Zambian Carnivore Programme, Maggie has been seen quite far to the north.

Meanwhile Shy (Queen’s first male offspring from her second litter, in 2012/3), and Castor and Pollux (Killing Machine’s first male cubs, from 2015), have formed a coalition and have moved south about 100 km from our Busanga concession, to an area between Lufupa and Mapunga, where they have evicted the resident Sable Male from his territory. As then as if to close the loop, the Sable Male has now moved into the Treetops area – formerly Shy’s territory.

Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.