See videos of The King of the Jungle! in African Safari Part 7 – Lion Videos but I recommend you read this post first for perspective (and some beautiful still shots).
Emmanuel noticed scavenger birds gathering and suggested, “Let’s go see what it there.” We came across these two brothers. Seeing a lion in nature gave me an adrenaline rush combined with the awe of these beautiful, graceful, powerful, elegant, confident animals.
Even resting, their front arms ripped with muscle and their rear legs showed extreme power. I felt struck by the size of their head and the complex beauty of their face and mane. Their paws are huge, their teeth large and sharp, and they clearly know they are the king.
Male lions often hang in pairs and work together on the hunt. We tracked these two brothers over three days, often following their paw prints in the end-of-the-dry-season sand. They showed little bother with us as they had just shared a small elephant for a meal that would last them about 3 or 4 days.
Gomoti Camp – Santawani Concession
Again in Santawani on an excursion we saw the scavenger birds and found their target – zebra remains.
These boys were happy and full (of zebra). Manuel assumed them younger than the Linyanti lions and the leader of their pride. You can notice they both have some battle scars. Like the lions of Linyanti these two were at ease with us around.
Tubu Camp – Okavango Delta
Male lions weighed maybe 400 or 500 lbs. Lions can run up to 50 mph and leap up to 30 feet (that is crazy to think about, but then again many domestic cat can jump from the floor to the top of a refrigerator). A typical pride of lions will be 2 or 3 males, perhaps a dozen females (including mothers and daughters) and their cubs. Males typically live to be maybe 10 or 15 years old.
At Tubu, the third male was older and at this point in his life the other two left him behind. He blended well into the landscape. Of all the lions we saw I thought he the most gorgeous.
Two Final Thoughts
First thought – Per National Geographic, “Since the 1940s, when lions numbered an estimated 450,000, lion populations have blinked out across the world. Now they may total as few as 20,000 animals.” Much of the decline has come in the the past 25 years. The biggest cause is thought to be human expansion (which destroys both the lion and their food supply). Lions are extinct in many countries where they used to live. The solution is setting aside large land preserves where lions where indigenous, which includes all of Africa, much of the Middle East, and parts of India and the far east.
Second thought – I believe that anyone (be it a dentist or a politician’s son, or anyone) who flies across oceans or travels large distances with the express purpose of killing animals “for sport” is doing something unnatural, that is, against nature. I liken it to bestiality. Fortunately more and more airlines are refusing to transport big game carcasses. I hope more countries outlaw hunting safaris as Botswana has.
Next up African Safari Part 2b – Female Lions and their adorable cubs. A must see post.