It was early November and I was driving around Laikipia’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy with professional wildlife photographer and dear friend Margot Raggett. We had failed spectacularly in our search for cats that morning, but around lunchtime we heard that lions had been spotted recently in the area so we decided to return in the afternoon and soldier on. A combination of desperate hope, Margot’s eagle eyes and pure luck produced the result we were hoping for: a solo lioness emerged from the bushes. She seemed to be waiting for something, staring resolutely into the bushes behind. At first we thought she was hunting and had spotted a tasty impala shaped snack that we couldn’t see. But about five minutes later a mating pair of lions arrived.
She ran over to join them. They all seemed familiar and greeted each other affectionately, but she was obviously very interested in the male. Amid our scandalous chatter about lion relations I gasped, “Margot! There’s another male.” A big male appeared near by and made a bee-line for the threesome.
He wasted no time splitting them up and then a loud and bloody fight erupted between the two males. It happened so quickly I barely had time to register it. I just pressed click!
It was everything you would imagine it would be. When such an incredibly powerful force of nature unexpectedly erupts it is thrilling, terrifying and magical. Sometimes I get complacent watching these great beasts sleeping. They grumble and ignore everyone and everything around them and I wonder what all the fuss is about. This scene reminded me why lions are ‘the king of the jungle.’
|Claiming his prize|
|Injured but victorious|
|The female in question|
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