Robert Henderson's picture

Farewell to the Kings

Farewell to Bob Jr. and Marley, the Lion Kings of the Serengeti for over seven years. Bob Jr. and Marley were killed in March 2023, in separate attacks by a coalition of rival males trying to take over the pride.

There has been an outpouring of grief from all over the world as word of the deaths has spread to park visitors and photographers who had the joy of encountering the lions in person, and many more who knew them only from their images.

Bob Jr. and Marley were African, Black Maned Lions whose sire was the famous, original Bob Marley. The brothers formed a coalition that shared a large pride of females and many cubs. Marley was the more handsome, while Bob Jr., many would say, was the more magnificent member of the coalition. Bob Jr. had a much darker mane, many scars, and very dark eyes. He always looked angry (and hungry) except when he was nuzzling his brother. Their home range was the Central Area of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania near Namiri Plains.

They were without question the two most strikingly photogenic lions I have ever encountered.

The short grass savannah in the Central Serengeti area where we were following the lions last November had been burned over in a controlled burn a few weeks prior. The grass had been burned down to a very short, reddish-brown stubble. The burn extended over a sizeable fraction of the entire national park. This clearly had an effect on the lions. Most of the game had deserted the area, and the lions were visibly affected. You could count every rib. There was also a strong breeze that was blowing ash and dust into the lions' eyes, and their nictitating membranes were halfway up, making their gaze that much more striking as the lions wandered in and out of the limited available shade.

A special thanks to our Namiri Plains guide Anderson Mwampashe for spending all day with me, and on into the evening tracking the brothers for the perfect shot.

I took the image with a Canon EOS R6 with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM extender lens, hand-held. The exposure settings were 1/1250 sec at f/4, ISO 1600, 400 mm. Taken November 8, 2022.

Canon R6
400 mm · f/4.0 · 1/1250 sec · ISO 1600
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Robert congratulations on your photo of day. Well done

Thanks Harry! It means a lot coming from one of the guys I follow. Regards, Bob

Omg! Wow!

Hi Black Z Eddie, Many thanks! I appreciate the comment very much. It’s very sad the Kings are gone, but they lived as warriors, and ended as warriors. I don’t think they will be forgotten. And they sired many cubs! So those black mane genes live on! Best regards, Bob

Full of photo. Congratulations on photo of the day. deserves it.

Hi Mariano, Many thanks! The comments mean a lot. i am glad you like it. I Bob

spectacular!! such a beautiful animals! congratulations

Hi Felix, Many thanks! They were the most majestic lions I have ever seen. It was a privilege to have been able to see them in person. Hopefully the many cubs they sired will be as majestic in their turn. Best regards, Bob

gorgeous photo dear robert

Thank you so much! Bob