I finally got my CD-Rom to recognize my Africa CD! So here is another installment of our safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Since we left off with leopards, the next animal on my list is lions! They were so impressive that instead of one shot and description, you get a story. As usual, click on any picture for a larger, more detailed version.
We woke up super early (really! I mean it! 4:30am!) and around 6:30am we noticed a tour truck stopped up ahead. This means that they'd spotted something camera-worthy. As we slowly approached there was a male lion standing in the middle of the road right in front of us! Let's call him Screech. He's the one pictured above, standing in front of the truck.
As we were focused on him a lioness approached from behind us on the left side of the road and almost immediately another male crossed the car in front of us and joined her. Let's call this second male Mr. T. There he is at left. You can see how full of himself he is, can't you?
So now it was time to see what being the dominant male really meant. Before the lioness could make it to Screech, Mr. T blocked her and in lionspeak told her, "Get back from that lesser guy and stay here with a real lion, woman!" (Pictured at right is his blocking maneuver.) After this masculine exhibition, I noticed Mr. T looking across the road towards the brush he had previously walked out from. As I turned to see what he was staring at another lioness appeared right before me, walked not six feet from our car, across the street and Mr. T. "allowed" her to approach him.
Once she was corralled in with the other lioness, a third lioness walked in front of our car from the same spot in the brush and joined Mr. T's harem. Every time a lioness tried to visit the lonely Screech, Mr. T would run his interference play and usher her back to the others. By the end, Mr. T was just sitting there gloating. Obvious gloating. Poor Screech. He just sat there and watched as Mr. T basked in his overabundance of feline femininity. Isn't that how it always is? One guy gets all the chicks while the other guy just wants one? After 45 minutes of this wildlife soap opera, we decided to move on and let them resolve their problems without our prying eyes.
This is the second lioness as she approached on the right side of the car. Isn't she beautiful? It was an incredible, almost frightening moment to look out your window as a lioness silently appeared out of the brush.
Here is Screech as we were leaving. He just gave up. Poor guy. What I really want you to notice is the shape that these wild lions are in. Most of us only see well-fed lions in the zoo that merely have to walk a few feet to their next meal. Wild lions are thin. It amazed me how skinny they were. You could see the back bones on all the lions, moreso with the males. And the scars...you could definitely tell they had to fight for their food.
This is our last picture of Mr. T and his lionesses. Look at him. I really think he's laughing. That little selfish, bad-guy laugh. The understated 'heh heh heh', low and quiet. Sure, we know his progeny will be all over the savannah next year. But he knows that we know...and he relishes every moment!