Few people get to know the wildlife as well as the guides, so we were thrilled when Sable Alley guide put together this fascinating piece on the lion who’s currently dominant in the area. Mario’s fellow guides Tony and Synack have also contributed photos.
We hope you enjoy Mario’s story of Phakara as much as we do.
There is a lion known as Phakara (or right eye), born in Savute in 2011. He has four brothers, but according to my estimation not all the same age. This story will try to explain the life of a living legend seen regularly in Khwai Private Reserve.
There were two females, left from the scattered pride of North Savuti, and five males that crossed with them known as Selinda Sekekama. These lions found a male lion, known as Torn Nose and his three brothers in their territory. Sekekama and Torn Nose mated with a female known as Satau (the mother of Phakara and his sister) Satau had five male cubs and two female cubs. The pride was called north pride. There were nine lions in the pride, but Sekekama and Torn Nose were not interested in the pride of the north because they only had a few females. Instead they pursued the pride of the south swamp.
Phakara’s mother Satau, photographed by researcher Hasan Mahamed.
Satau and her sisters took care of this five males and their two sisters until they reached puberty in 2014. The activities of her sons, Phakara and Trump eventually started to impose on their father’s land in the south so they were chased back towards their mother’s area.
Early 2015, Sekekama and Torn Nose went north to expel their sons. After they expelled them the females kept contacting the males, but Sekekama and Torn Nose wanted them to leave the area before they become a big threat to them. The five males left the region and headed towards the Mababe area to escape from their fathers and avoid injuries. Since then, no one knew where the five males had gone until I began my research on the sons of the North. A year later I presented my theory about Khwai Private Reserve’s dominant males being the sons of Sekekama and Torn Nose. Since I joined the guiding team, there had been three dominant males in this area known as Lewis, Scar Face and Phandane. Phakara and his brothers came in from NG19 in 2018 to try take over the territory. So Phakara and his brothers challenged the then dominant males (Scar Face, Lewis and Phandane), and managed to dominate them and took over the territory. Unfortunately, since they took over they haven’t raised any cubs with the pride of eight lioness. This might be because the area is big, there are many intruder males coming in and out from different areas like Moremi game Reserve, NG19 and the north to try and challenge these brothers.
Phakara and his brothers, photographed by researcher Hasan Mahamed.
In May 2022, a male lion from Moremi Game Reserve crossed over to challenge Phakara. This male lion was almost twice the size of Phakara. At the time his brothers were on the western side of the concession, so there was a minor quarrel between them but the two competing males knew that they were not interested in fighting each other. Phakara gradually withdrew without fighting or chasing, and was acting very confident in himself. Phakara went back to let his brothers know that there was an intruder in their area. His brothers came in to help chase this male lion back to Moremi.
Phakara is a true lion and is not afraid of anything. He is very wise, not reckless, and is just as respectful as his fathers (Sekekama and Torn Nose). Two months ago, five male lions came into the concession from NG20, west of Tuludi and kept on coming in and out of Phakara and his brothers’ territory. They noticed that there were intruders in their area, and one day came across them, resulting in a great battle. Phakara and his brothers were spotted by Tony, one of our guides at Tuludi who photographed Phakara’s new scar on his face. Fortunately his two brothers did not have any serious injuries. Tony decided to drive all the way to our boundary line to see if he could find the intruder males and discovered that they were badly injured. Phakara and his brothers managed to hold their territory for another day.
Phakara and his brothers are fighting like there’s no tomorrow because they now have their own offspring to protect. There are eight cubs in the Sable Alley pride of eight females, with three younger cubs and five slightly older cubs. Phakara and his brothers know that if they lose the fight and lose their territory the cubs will also not survive.
The cubs, photographed by guide Synack.
Life is taking its toll on Phakara. On his right eye he has an old scar, which occurred when he was kicked by a zebra while learning to hunt. Nowadays, he also has a big new scar on his nose – the mark of a true warrior.
Phakara after fighting with five males who came from west of Tuludi, photographed by guide Synack.
During the past two months alone he has won three battles. Sekekama and Torn Nose have fathered many males but this one should win the title of the strongest male in Botswana, and he’s here at Khwai Private Reserve, Sable Alley Camp.
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