Farewell to Bob Jr. and Marley, the Lion Kings of the Serengeti for over seven years. Bob Jr. and Marley were killed earlier this month, 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. There was a strong breeze that was blowing ash and dust into the lions' eyes, and their nictating 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 Namiri Plains Asilia Guide Anderson Kayle 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.