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Robert Henderson's picture

The Wind and the Lion 2

It's been more than a year since the Circle of Life closed for Marley (in this image) and his brother Bob Jr. The lions were known around the world as the "Kings of the Serengeti." They ruled their large pride for over 7 years, and sired many cubs. In March 2023 Bob Jr. and Marley were killed by a coalition of younger males in a territorial battle to take over the pride. Photographers and visitors to the Serengeti all over the world mourned their passing.

We saw the brothers for the last time in November, 2022. Marley was looking as robust as ever, but it was clear that Bob Jr. was getting older, and his many battles had clearly taken a toll.

But it wasn't just age and a very hard life. The short grass savannah in the Central Serengeti area where we were following the lions in November, 2022 had been burned over in a controlled burn a few weeks prior to our visit. 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. The lack of grass in the burned area also creates an albedo effect that increases the wind on a local basis. The wind was blew strongly the entire time we were in the park, and there was a lot of sand and dust in the air. It was hard on the lions, and hard on my camera gear as well.

Both Marley and Bob Jr. were clearly underfed. Their skin was hanging loosely on their frames, and you could count every rib. Both lions were still formidable, but were not able to fight off the coalition of rival males.

A special thank you goes to our Namiri Plains guide Anderson Mwampashe, who patiently tracked the lions all day and into the evening with us looking for the perfect shot

I took the image with a Canon EOS R6 with an EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM extender lens, handheld. The exposure settings were 1/1250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 50, 560 mm. Taken November 9, 2022.

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2 Comments

Spectacular. Mi like

Hi Mariano,

Many thanks!

Those really were the most amazing lions I have ever seen. They were like supermodels. It was impossible to take a bad picture. And their story was compelling as well.

They touched a lot of photographers. Bob