The Lionesses of The Ngamo Plains: Nomvelo & Tegwane

by | Jan 31, 2024 | Wildlife

Lionesses in Hwange National Park African Safaris

Join us in celebrating two lionesses who will be 12 years old this year! Nomvelo and Tegwane – highly skilled matriarchs who have fed the Ngamo pride and raised its cubs for more than seven years! That includes four consecutive pride males or male coalitions (in the photos Tegwane wears a collar fitted by Hwange Lion Research).

Nomvelo and Tegwane are cohort sisters (they may not have the same mum) born in 2012, daughters of the famous Cecil. They joined pride males Butch and Ngqwele at Ngamo in 2017. In 2020 Siphoko took over the pride and about a year later Lesang took over from Siphoko. We called this period ‘The Lion Wars’ – but Lesang was a superlion who survived solo until 2023. Now, the coalition of Mzilikazi and Lobengula rule the Ngamo plains. Throughout this period, Nomvelo and Tegwane have raised cubs just about every year, and sometimes had to hide them from victorious new males on the warpath – successfully on some occasions. Way to go, Ladies! The power behind the throne.

Understanding the Ngamo prides’ timeline 

Males are underlined

JUL 2012 Nomvelo, Tegwane and Nandi were born – daughters of Cecil, they are sister cohorts not all sharing the same mother

NOV 2014 Lesang born at Ngweshla – son of Cecil

JUL 2015 Cecil famously killed in Gwayi Forest

MAR 2017 First sighting of Nomvelo in Ngamo
Ngqwele & Butch coalition are in control of Ngamo pride

JUN 2017 Cubs (8) born

AUG 2017 Tegwane and Nandi join Nomvelo, forming a highly successful coalition


JAN 2018 Cubs born to Tegwane

AUG 2018 Butch injured with serious head trauma

DEC 2018 Butch honeymooning Nandi

MAY 2019 Cubs (3) born to Nandi
Butch is killed by train or buffalo


lions African Safari

Supermoms Nandi & Nomvelo, their boys Blondie and brothers born 2017 plus two sets of cubs born 2019


AUG 2019 We meet Thandeka (“Beloved”) – daughter of Nomvelo or Tegwane
Ngqwele fights and kills Zandhile



NOV 2019 Ngqwele fights Siphoko (“The Ghost”) born 2015 son of Jericho, partner of Cecil; Ngqwele honeymooning Tegwane

2020 ‘LION WARS’
Siphoko defeats Ngqwele (who reigned at least 4 years – 2 with Butch).
Pride splits, Nomvelo departs, leaving Tegwane and Thandeka as senior lionesses of Ngamo pride; Siphoko honeymooning Tegwane

MID 2020 Lesang in coalition with 3 younger lions – The Baggage Handlers – defeat Siphoko (who reigned approx. 1 year)


JAN 2021 Lesang honeymooning Tegwane
Nomvelo rejoins Tegwane and Thandeka in the Ngamo pride


Lion pair African Safari

A strong alliance between Lesang and Tegwane appears hard won looking at Lesang’s face


THROUGH 2021 Cubs born, 3 each, to Tegwane, Thandeka and Nomvelo


Lion cubs and lioness African safari

Tegwane and two of her new cubs just after sunrise


Lion family with cubs African Safari

Lesang with Thandeka and Nandi and some of his cubs


SEP 2021 Lesang honeymooning Nomvelo

APR 2022 Lesang honeymooning Nomvelo


Lioness and cubs in zimbabwe african safari

Nomvelo and her 3 new cubs on the Bomani concession April 2022


LATE 2022 Lesang is injured – possibly by a buffalo

EARLY 2023 Mzilikazi & Lobengula defeat Lesang (who reigned approx. 3 years)

MID-2023 Nomvelo honeymoons Mzilikazi then Lobengula – probably false (polyamorous) oestrous to distract new males from her cubs which were fathered by Lesang

OCT 2023 Photo opp of 8 cubs



JAN 2024 Festive season photo opp with the doctors from the Smile and See Safari 2023 featuring Mzilikazi, Nomvelo and Tegwane





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