It is the end of the dry season, late spring, in Mashatu Game Reserve in south Eastern Botswana. It is very hot and dry but the rains are coming, how good they will be we do not know! For herbivores it is a question of hanging on; for the lions it is a time of plenty.
“These are the animals that are the reason why you don’t see old animals in the wild. You don’t see sick animals in the wild. You don’t see lame animals in the wild, and its all because of the predator: the lion, the tiger, the leopard, all the cats.” ~ Tippi Hedren
We left camp at 6h00 to get into the park while the light was still soft and the predators were still active. Less than 15 minutes into the drive, we found two lionesses walking along the dam wall in the south east of the reserve. They were relaxed and stopped periodically to just look around. At one point both the lionesses stopped and lay down on top of the dam wall in the early morning light.
Later that morning, we found a second group of lionesses with cubs. The cubs looked well fed and alert.
“Watch, don’t stare. Listen, don’t talk. Sense, don’t opine. There is more going on here than you are remotely aware of! ~ Mike Haworth
This well-fed cub must have been around six months old. I liked the reclined pose and just look at that small bulging belly.
Other cubs were more inquisitive. The two lionesses in this pride had two cubs each.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, the light grew brighter and the contrast stronger. At this point I decided a black and white treatment would suit the image better. I liked the shadows on the the lioness.
“Why are wild lions in danger? Habitat loss which has led to a reduction of prey!~ Mike Haworth
The next day we set out looking for the dominant large male Lion in Mashatu. This king has dominated this territory for around the last four years.
This is a large, muscular male lion, in his prime with little competition. Most of the young males in this area have been pushed out into the surrounding territories.
This side view gives a sense of the size and muscular build of this male. I liked the different tones of light on him.
“His size triggers primal fear. His silent gaze hides intention. A regal and confident pose. Little fazes him and there is little to dispose him.”~ Mike Haworth
A regal, dominant male lying in the shade of a Shepard tree away from his family who were about forty metres away.
He looks so docile lying in his position….but don’t try getting out of the vehicle!
I always try to take a close up of one feature of an animal. This male’s mane looked is perfect condition, well groomed with highlights and all.
“Is the lion walking across the road or is the road crossing the lion’s path?~Mike Haworth.
A black and white image of this magnificent male to show his bulk, all of which is pure muscle. This is a big, burly male lion quite capable of defending his territory and family.
An up close facial image of this male lion showing his regal pose and varied tones in his mane..
There is something awe inspiring about being close to a large male lion. You get a first hand impression of the size of this predator. It is very humbling to be sitting in the protection of vehicle so close to this apex predator.
“Every creature was designed to serve a purpose. Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life. There is a wealth of knowledge that is openly accessible in nature. Our ancestors knew this and embraced the natural cures found in the bosoms of the earth. Their classroom was nature. They studied the lessons to be learned from animals. Much of human behavior can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.” ~ Suzy Kassem,
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its inter-connectedness and let it be.