Between 2002 and 2008 I have taken hundreds of pictures of this beautiful male Lion. He was the dominant male of the Phinda North Pride for many years and whenever I think about Lions I first think about him.
Together with my friend and field guide Mike Karantonis I spent many days and sometimes part of the nights watching him grow older and stronger. In 2009 a coaltion of three younger males replaced him as the dominant male of the pride.
I took this picture in December 2006 in the streaming rain (see also the second picture taken at the same time) in front of my room at Phinda’s Vlei Lodge.
About male Lions:
Male lions are not lazy. They have a very tough life. Only one out of ten males makes it to full maturity. Once their father has evicted them, they have to fight other male Lions for a few years. The very few that get not killed in this harsh selection process may become the dominant male of a pride after they successfully drive away or kill the previous “boss”.
Male Lions do usually not participate in hunts because they are very visible with their large mane and would make it much easier for the prey to “get wind” of the hunt. They also have to preserve their strength and avoid to get insured in a hunt, because they have to defend their pride towards other males and prides. It is in the interest of the whole pride that they are capable of doing so, because if another male manages to take over, the first thing he will do is to kill all the young lions of the pride (up to two years old). For the same reason it makes sense that male Lions eat first and plenty at each kill to make sure that they stay strong for any upcoming fights.
Picture 1: Camera: Canon 1D MII / Lens: Canon L 2.8 300mm / Mode: AV / Shutter Speed: 1/400s / Aperture: f/2.8 / ISO: 800 / Exposure Correction -0.33eV / Metering: Central weighted / White balance: manual K6500 / Time: early morning / Freehand
Picture 2: Camera: Canon 1D MII / Lens: Canon L 28-300mm at 78mm / Mode: AV / Shutter Speed: 1/100s / Aperture: f/4.5 / ISO: 400 / Exposure Correction -0.33eV / Metering: Central weighted / White balance: manual K6500 / Time: early morning / Freehand