Linyanti, Botswana

The Lion Prides of Savute



Anton Kruger


The history of lions in the Linyanti

The wider Savute  area is known for its dynamic and sometimes challenging ecosystems, including the Savuti Channel, which can undergo periods of flooding and drying. The history of the lions in this region has been the subject of various studies and documentaries, with a notable one being "Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas”.

"Eternal Enemies" is a documentary produced by National Geographic that explores the intense rivalry between lions and hyenas in the Savute region. The film, released in 1997, focuses on the ongoing conflict between the two groups of predators as they compete for resources, particularly in times of drought. The documentary captures the complex interactions, battles, and strategies employed by both lions and hyenas in their struggle for survival. This particular documentary made a lasting impression on me, especially a scene where the dominant male lion had enough of the hyenas, and like the true king of Africa proclaimed his strength!

Lions in the Linyanti

There have been instances where lions in the Savute region have been observed preying on young elephants. The Savuti Pride, in particular, gained attention for exhibiting this unusual behaviour.


Needless to say, the Savute lions are celebrities. On our recent visit to Wilderness Savuti and Little DumaTau camps, we enjoyed numerous sightings of these incredible lions, and what a privilege to spend intimate moments with the descendants of the legendary Savute lions!





Here is a quick update on the lion prides of the Savuti Channel, almost 30 years after they became a household name (in our house at least!) – 


Currently there are two prides roaming the area between Wilderness Savuti and DumaTau camps; they are known as the Channel Pride and the DumaTau Pride (a breakaway pride originating from the Channel Pride). 


The Channel Pride currently consists of 16 lions, excluding the two dominant males, named Golden Boy and Man in Charge. They replaced the Smiling Boys a few years ago, and are now the dominant force. There are five adult females, with the youngest female currently having had her first litter of two cubs. At the time of our visit in October 2023 they were only five weeks old, and still separated from the pride. We shared some intimate moments with the mother and cubs... The rest of the pride is made of by one-year-old cubs and a few other sub-adults.


In the western reaches of the Savuti Channel things are currently not that stable. The dominant males of the DumaTau Pride, named the Channel Boys, were met by a force, apparently coming from the south... They are a fierce coalition of six male lions, leaving the Channel Boys barely escaping with their lives and surrendering their territory. The guides named them the Angry Boys, with one of the males being particularly aggressive and unfortunately killing most of the cubs. 




Wilderness conservation of lion prides

On our final morning we came across the DumaTau Pride far beyond the eastern boundary of their usual territory, apparently trying to escape from the new males that are wreaking havoc amongst the pride.


In conclusion, the Savute region continues to captivate with its ever-changing landscapes and the compelling drama of its resident lion prides. The echoes of "Eternal Enemies" resonate as the intense rivalry between lions and hyenas persists, adding another layer to the intricate tapestry of life in this dynamic ecosystem. 





Our recent encounters with the Channel and DumaTau prides provided a first-hand look into the unfolding chapters of their storied history. The rise of the Angry Boys, and the shifting dynamics within the DumaTau Pride, underscore the ongoing challenges these majestic creatures face. As we reflect on the legacy of the Savute lions, we remain grateful for the opportunities to witness and appreciate the resilience and strength of these iconic predators in the heart of Africa's wilderness.

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