The Lion. The second-largest living cat on earth. In the wild males live between 10-16 years.
I dedicate this post to these majestic creatures, The Kings of the African Throne.
Contrary to assumption, the male lion isn’t the lazy cat it’s made out to be, yawning, lying under the shade on a warm afternoon while the lionesses go out and hunt for him.
Lion supremacy ONLY comes by force and through fierce battle, which means almost all male lions die horrible deaths in the hands of their successors. Lions face the most terrifying and bloody fights you can imagine. To us, It seems cruel, heartless even evil, but that’s their way of life. This is the one situation where the saying “Only the strongest survive” is most true.
Let’s rewind and start from the beginning of Kingship.
At birth, males and females are born in equal numbers. On average, only one in eight male lions survive to adulthood. Young cubs are very venerable. Illness, lack of food and territory take over top their reasons of death. If they beat the odds and reach sexual maturity, usually at the age of 2, the Pride males kick them out of the pride to fend for themselves.
Now as nomads, they have to survive without the security and comfort of the pride. They must hunt, but mostly scavenge to survive. VERY QUIETLY passing through other lion territories looking for food, a resting place and growing strong as the years go by.
This is where the game of numbers comes in play. Survival odds for these nomad males are increased when they are many in numbers. That unbreakable bond within brothers always ensures that they can survive to adulthood and even one day conquer a territory for themselves as their fathers before them.
When they come of age, a pride takeover is imminent and this only goes one of two ways. Battle to death or submitting and running away. If the Pride male submits (if he is outnumbered) he faces the most dangerous time of his life. He has to provide for himself, which is quite a task because not only is he old and alone but with his big mane, he is too conspicuous which makes hunting very hard.
Back at the pride, all of his cubs get killed by the new Kings. Lions only raise cubs of their own, unless at the time of the take over the cubs were over a year old and already big enough.
Strong Pride males are key for a Pride’s survival. Once at the throne, they must protect the pride with their lives. Most of the time, Pride males are miles away marking and patrolling their territory. Ensuring that their little ones will reach to adulthood and their BLOODLINE is successfully passed to the next generation. It goes without saying that only the bravest Lions achieve this.
Today I want to share with you photos I took of the Royals of Mara. Strong, young energetic and proud. These are the Pride Males of Mara’s thriving prides.
In the silhouette is King Lipstick, mating in the high grass is his brother King Blackie. They are members of the once 4KM Coalition. Their 2 brothers are said to have disappeared (probably killed)
The rest of the Kings are of the 4 Musketeers Coalition, I only got to meet 3 of them, Scar the Fourth brother was elusive and I didn’t get to see him on my short trip, but may be next time he will grace my lens with his presence.
Please remember you can help preserve big cats by donating 5$ to project #5forBigCats or just helping in creating the awareness. Check out the NATGEO Initiative
Special thanks to the team at Entim Camp i enjoyed the stay.
Until we meet again on the next post… Regards, Clement