Written by Philip J. Briggs
“Will he ever grow a proper mane?” “His body is hardly bigger than a female”.
“He’s just plain ugly”. “Zero personality, no character”.
Numerous discriminatory remarks have been uttered about Loolaimutiak over the recent years by the Guardians whilst observing him in the field; we are all clearly very opinionated about the lions we are protecting! However, Loolaimutiak, now over five years of age, has been quietly plugging away at establishing himself and protecting his small but growing family.Even in our wildest dreams we could not have predicted what would transpire recently. A few months ago, after several years of regularly being chased away, Loolamutiak decided to challenge the largest and most successful male lion in the entire Amboseli ecosystem – Martii. Martii has literally become a legend for the Guardians due to his remarkable success with siring cubs, not to mention his immense size and black mane. To challenge him is a risk, especially for a younger and smaller lion. Loolaimutiak did exactly that, and what is even more surprising is that he did it in the core of Martii’s territory.
The fight was intense; it happened at 7:30am and many people, from over 4km away, heard the fierce growls of battle. We rushed to the scene of the fight to find the resulting blood bath and matted mane hair laying everywhere. But there was no sign of the two males themselves. Having no idea who won, we went in search of the duelers. We found Martii with plenty of cuts on his face and Loolaimutiak with a minor chest injury but apart from that he was looking unscathed.
To our knowledge, it appears there was no clear winner of the fight as Martii is still holding his territory containing a pride of 8 females and more than 30 cubs. Loolaimutiak continues to frequent the area to the south where he has carved out a territory and charmed away at least three females from Martii’s reign. Although there were no obvious changes to the lion leadership, on this day our impression of Loolaimutiak definitely changed dramatically. The respect that he earned from being so bold has altered the Guardians impressions of who he is and what he might become. The rise of Loolaimutiak has begun. Watch out Martii!