One question thugh - our official Kgalagadi guide mentioned an interesting behavior about pride lions. It says that they stay with a particular group of lionesses tills the cubs are 2-3 yrs old (ie, old enough to look after themselves), and then move on to another pride. In the meantime, other wandering lions come and start mating with this group of lionesses. The stated reason for this is that the lionesses dont come into estrus for 3 yrs after having cubs, and by moving on, the lions maximize their chances of reproductive success.
I was always under the impression that once a male coalition takes over a pride, they stay till they are forced out. Behaviorally speaking, moving like this doesnt seem to maximize reproductive success, as it increases the chances of encountering other pride lions whose cubs have NOT reached adolescence.
What gives? A behavior trait specific to Kgalagadi lions, due to the particular conditions there?
It's always a shame when Guides get their facts a bit skewed - and I think this has happened here - I am not aware that the lions in the Kgalagadi behave any differently to lions anywhere else in Africa?
The males normally stay with a pride (or prides if there are more than one in their territory) for 2 - 3 years; usually they take over their first pride between the age of 5 and 7, until they are forced out by younger, stronger males.
Male lions in the wild only live to around 10 years of age, so by the time they have been with a pride for a couple of years they may be getting pretty old in lion years.
Lions defend their territories - and their prides - fiercely and there is not a lot of chance of 'wandering males' mating with the pride without a fight!
The attached male(s) are not only likely, in most cases, to hear the intruding males (as a lion's roar can be heard from up to 8km away) but may detect them through their scent marking and will rush to defend the pride.
The females will also put up a fight as the intruding male will attempt to kill all the cubs before trying to mate with the females.
The only chance that nomadic males would have of mating with a pride which already has attached males is if the attached males are too far away to detect their presence, which could happen in large sparsely populated areas where territories are larger, or if the attached male(s) are too old, weak, sick to successfully defend their pride in which case the incomers would then defeat them and take over the pride until they are, in turn, displaced.