janzin

Lion fight in the Masai Mara!

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Since I'm totally remiss in posting my full trip report from this past September (yes, still processing the photos!) I thought I'd just give a quick taste with this remarkable lion fight which we witnessed in the Mara. We were in the Naboisho conservancy, out of Encounter Mara camp, with the excellent Ping guiding us (this was a (mostly) privately guided trip arranged by The Wild Source.)

 

We had been watching male #1 mating with a female for quite awhile that morning (amazing in and of itself--more of that in the eventual trip report.) He started to wander away, so we followed. Well apparently he had stolen this female from another male who he then happened upon, and this fight ensued! It all happened so fast and as luck would have it, at that moment I had the wrong lens on (70-200 on the D500)--and there was no time to change it! So these are highly cropped.

Meantime Ping was gunning the car to follow while I was trying to keep my camera and bean bag from flying out of the vehicle! (Later Ping said that this was only the 2nd time he'd witnessed this fierce of a fight over a female in all his 20+ guiding years.) He was as thrilled as we were!


Stay away from my woman!

 

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I really mean it!

 

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I'm bigger and stronger than you!

 

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I'm high-tailing it out of here--although its nice to be fought over, this could get dangerous! (note female running away.)

 

 

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Down for the count.

 

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Ouch! (they then rolled behind that tree, making photos even more difficult.)

 

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I hope you got the message, stay away!

 

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Amazingly, the fight ended with neither of these very powerful lions seriously injured. The "loser" walked away with only his injured pride. Shortly thereafter the victor was back to mating with his lady.

 

Here is the "loser" not too much worse for wear, thankfully. They are just so powerful and that thick mane really protects their neck.

 

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Full trip report to come...eventually!

 

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Great series @@janzin I bet the noise was impressive too!

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Posted (edited)

@@janzin very nice pics.

Don't worry about the "loser". On September the 26th we watched all three males mating with three lioness very close together.

Edited by Botswanadreams
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@@janzin Thank you so much for sending us your photos of what is obviously an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience.

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What an amazing sighting and to be able to capture it so well is such a bonus!

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Great series @@janzin I bet the noise was impressive too!

 

Funny @@wilddog I'm sure they were growling and snapping but it happened so fast, I can't remember any noise, also we were quite a bit far away! The whole encounter took about 10 seconds...actually looking at the time-stamps on the photos, it was about seven seconds...the first is at 8:26:07 and the last at 8:26:14!

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Anyone has any doubts about changing lenses in the field?! Not me, not anymore. When once-in-20 year action starts, the shutter is the only thing worth squeezing.

 

Perfect shots, @@janzin ... and the last one, was that one also heavily cropped??

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Anyone has any doubts about changing lenses in the field?! Not me, not anymore. When once-in-20 year action starts, the shutter is the only thing worth squeezing.

 

Perfect shots, @@janzin ... and the last one, was that one also heavily cropped??

 

There just wasn't time to change lenses, I could only react (and barely fast enough)! One of the few times I actually had put the 70-200 on the D500 as normally it was on the D810, but we had been shooting the mating lions just a few minutes earlier, fairly close in, and so I was using that lens on the D500. In fact (and I don't exactly remember) but the 200-500 must have been on the D810 but I didn't even have time to pick up the other camera, as noted the whole thing was over in 7 seconds!

 

The last photo is pretty much full frame, same lens but after the fight he came right around towards us and we pulled much closer.

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Goodness, they are even quicker than they are at mating. Lazy boys.

 

Love it! Great story and sighting and sympathy for you having the little lens on when it happened. Damn!! (But at least you didn't have to worry too much about focus tracking accuracy during intense excitment - looking on the bright side :))

 

By the way, I think I remember those boys, and especially blondie (not a name) from when I was there in 2013. Blondiie's older friend was a very aggressive boy and I rremember our guide told us blondie was not allowed to mate, which was a shame as he is such a beautiful lion. They seemed very affectionate together then though - nuzzling and stuff as grumpy had just come back from a multi-day solo patrol to somewhere - or maybe grumpy was just using blondie's face to wipe off some ticks.

 

 

Come one... get it together. Shoo shoo those friends and family and clients/ bosses away this weeken and get it done. @@janzin

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I was lucky enough to witness one of these encounters a couple years ago - the intensity and the power of those Beasts really captures your senses!!! Can hardly wait for the rest of your report, @@janzin - i've never been to Naboisho yet ...... but, do follow the Mara cheetah project updates from there......

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Thanks @@pault and @@madaboutcheetah they are indeed gorgeous lions, in fact the males I saw at Naboisho are some of the most gorgeous I've seen, certainly with the fullest, thickest manes.

 

I'm about 2/3 of the way through the photos! Life gets in the way! I have been posting some over at my Facebook page (address in my signature) if you want a sneak peak. As usual my goal is to get them up, and the trip report done, before my next trip (in early March, although that isn't a safari, "just" a birding trip to Cuba.)

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@janzin:

 

I hope you won't object to my posting the following photographs, taken in Olare Motorogi in Feb 2015. They show a similar fight and I wondered if one of the same animals was involved. We were the only vehicle at the sighting which took place, as I recall, quite early in the morning. I did not have access to my camera at the critical time and the shots were taken by Karin Doolin and her husband, Roger, our charming young American travelling companions for the drive:

 

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Just unbelievable moments you have witnessed, @@douglaswise !

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WOW @@douglaswise those are amazing shots...even if not yours! That looks like an even more violent encounter, anyway it seems you were much closer. Could they be the same lions? Maybe! But I am no expert on identification. They surely look similar and are in the same general area, but there are so many lions there...

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Re: blondie not being allowed to mate...I wonder if it's more that he's not attractive to the ladies. They say the darker the mane, the more virile the lion and the more attractive he is to the females.

 

There were three resident male lions in Naboisho when I was there last Feb, I was told they were brothers and they were fair haired (furred?) at the time. Maybe younger than these though, given how short the mane is at top. But it has been a year too, so maybe they've matured.

 

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@janzin: Yes, the lions were probably less than 20m away and, as @@wilddog surmised, the sound and fury of the whole episode are what stick in the mind.My wife said she was shaking.

 

It could help identification if I give a fuller account of what happened and the guide's explanation:

 

The dark maned lion was sitting on the track so we more or less had to stop. I had seen a surfeit of sleepy lions in the previous week and was keen to press on to a hyaena den. If the lion had been out of the way, we'd have driven right past. While we were stopped and before the fight, we could make out further lions beyond the seated one. The guide observed that he was surprised to see the dark maned animal because he was out of area. He said that he was part of a dominant coalition and supposed he and his brother must have displaced the two males and lionesses that had been in the area the day before. At this point, the dark male stood up and advanced on the other lion, which, in turn, advanced until the clash occurred. I guess the fight lasted about half a minute and seemed to be ended by the intervention of a lioness which appeared to undermine the resolve of the aggressor who retreated. It was only after the fight that the guide explained that he had initially been wrong. The original territory holders were still in situ (he hadn't before had the opportunity to get a good view at other than the dark maned male and, in consequence, had made a wrong assumption) It seems that the dark maned, defeated animal had been patrolling his boundary and had detected an oestrous female in a pride that was not his. (The victor very soon mated with his lioness assistant.) The fight produced little obvious bleeding, but, as the dark maned animal walked off, I noticed that there appeared to be chronic muscle wasting in one of his hind legs (right, I think). Could he have bee @@pault's grumpy one?

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@@douglaswise. Very dark mane indeed. Although it is always difficult to tell from a photo as you have to guess about relative exposure, I will probably have a look. That pride in Naboisho is very well studied as there have been researchers based there for some years, and they are well known to guides as the pride often base themselves near thre Koiyaki Guiding School, where many of the Mara's Maasai guides first learned their trade.

 

I'll wait @@janzin. I don't believe in sneak previews (although teasers like this are always welcome)I want to be there with you, following the pride, and knowing too much of what is coming would spoil some of the fun!

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@@douglaswise - OMC rocks the house!!!! My guess is, that dark maned Lion is who they call "olo Pappit" .... sorry, unsure how to spell it.

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Superb images. Well shot, clear and action packed. fantastic!

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Very cool sightings. To me, in both cases, it looks like fights between coalition members, and not fights between different coalitions. The first are usually short (but could be intense) and don't end in serious injuries. The latter can be long, and regularly end in the death of one of more lions involved. I remember reading about an account (I think in The Serengeti Lion, from George Schaller), where he write about a territorial fight between a coalition of 9 males and one of 7 males, where several lions, and several were badly injured.

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