Francolins were calling, announcing the unavoidable dawn that was breaking.
The Land Rover engine was chugging along as we slowly crawled out of the lodge grounds of Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand (South Africa).
Then the roaring of lions brought us on high alert.
We followed, and came across one of the legendary Majingilane coalition male lions, walking up the road ahead of us and roaring towards his brothers. His brothers answered!
|Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f4.0 | 1/200 SS | ISO-3200
Soon we were witness to a reunion of these males - they had all been patrolling various corners of their territory, and this morning was their bonding moment. It was gloomy weather, but as I always do I just push up the ISO and let my trusty Nikon capture the action.
|Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f4.0 | 1/200 SS | ISO-6400
A third male joined, and they started rolling over each other, rubbing their scent off on one another and just bonding like lion brothers often do.
|Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f5.0 | 1/250 SS | ISO-5000
|Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f5.0 | 1/250 SS | ISO-3200
And then...things got awkward. Very awkward! :)
|Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f5.0 | 1/250 SS | ISO-4000
And no, this is not proof that animals have same-sex tendencies (before anyone jumps on a bandwagon that this post is not intended to provide)...this is purely a display of dominance and is not all that uncommon in mammals. It's a gesture, no real action is taken by the instigator, and the purpose is to assert dominance in a setting such as this where there are multiple males in a coalition and some sort of hierarchy is ascribed to. It was over in a few seconds, and the males flopped down to do what kings of the African bush do during the day - doze off...
We moved on from there to look for a family of cheetah - but the sighting remains one that I'll remember for a long time...seeing these males and the affection they showed upfront, combined with that quick weird show of dominance from the superior ranking one, gave me a glimpse into the dynamics of these male lion coalitions that have so long been the staple of the Sabi Sands and Greater Kruger area.
Are you keen to experience the wonder of the South African bush?
Then be sure to check out the Wild Eye Wildlife Photography Seminar that I am co-hosting in April!
Until next time...