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Lion pride at Kruger National Park, South Africa, during my recent Africa trip.  I was very lucky one morning early, during my recent trip to Africa.  Granted I did make my own luck to some extent, by getting out of camp at first light, and by taking a route that the few other vehicles out there were taking. But I still could not believe when I rounded a corner just before sunrise to see a large pride of lions who had been sleeping in the road to take advantage of the warmth. They can do this in Kruger because no private vehicles are allowed to drive the roads at night, and even the official park night drives are finished by 9 or 10 p.m. at latest.  This leaves the lions to schedule their hunts for early evening, and their sleeping for later.  They were stretching, doing their morning business (note the puddles) and just looking a bit dazed when I came along.  I did not draw very close to them, hoping they would not leave the road too soon.  But I had about 15 minutes to watch them before more cars came, and the pride decided to leave.  Beautiful morning light was just hitting them as they walked purposefully into the bush.  I had not seen a male, until I was ready to go.  He just popped up out of nowhere and walked along the road next to myself and one other car.  The rising sun hit him square in the face, but I think I like this shot of his regal profile the best.  He was a little on the thin side, especially compared to the large female you see lagging behind the group in the first shot.  But I found this to be fairly common with larger prides.  I really think the males have it tougher than many people think, particularly in a large pride with many mouths to feed.  While the females are hunting, the male is not always just lazing around.  They have to defend their position against other males.  And they do not always get to eat their fill, perhaps because the large females keep them from some kills, to let the youngsters have plenty.  I will say the males I saw with only 2 or 3 females and no young were much healthier looking, bigger lions than those in big prides like this one.

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Posted January 1, 2012 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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