The Serengeti in Tanzania surely reflects what most people romantically perceive Africa to be, wide-open spaces, verdant grasslands, and abundant wildlife strewn in every direction.
Bi-annually the Serengeti sees a mass influx of millions of wildebeest & zebra which graze on the almost never-ending grassy plains.
It is this open landscape and abundance that makes it a photographers dream and a predators paradise.
The Serengeti is home to an astonishing density of carnivores with some lion prides exceeding a staggering 40 in number. These prides feast themselves on the influx of plains game as it passes through their respective territories. Conversely during the intervals between the migrations, times are tough as pickings are meagre and competition is high.
Bearing this in mind, it is that much more remarkable that two male lions dominated one of the most sought after territories within the Serengeti for more than half a decade. In size but particularly in stature Bob Marley and Bob Junior were impressive. Quite simply these were probably two of the most iconic and beautiful lions that were to be seen in all of Africa.
I well remember the morning I took this image. Our excellent guides had heard a lion roaring not far from camp and we quickly abandoned any thoughts of an early breakfast and headed out to find the predator responsible. As the sun was rising on a perfect morning complete with a low hanging mist and very gentle breeze we caught sight of what appeared to be an orange halo surrounding a creature sitting in a patch of gently waving grass.
I could scarcely believe the incredible size of this lion’s mane and the magnificence of his stature, all made that much more spectacular by the rising sun.
I got into as low a position as I possibly could and started shooting all the time being aware of him looking over my shoulder with his golden orbs glowing in the morning light. Suddenly he heard something and then started to roar. I can still feel how that roar went right through me, resonating in my very core. In the distance a roar came back in reply, his pride was near. Bob Jnr got to his feet, stretched, and then disdainfully headed through the grass and over the hill.
It was just so thrilling being so close to one of Africa’s greatest lions on a perfect morning on the plains of the Serengeti.
I felt like a journalist who had been given a one on one task of photographing Mandela, Churchill or Roosevelt’s portrait, such was the fame of this lion and the privileged opportunity afforded to me.
Exhibition: 173cm x 117cm (68” x 46”)
Classic: 118cm x 80cm (46.5” x 31.4”)
© Chris Fallows 2018