This image I call "The Lion King" because of his obvious regal stature and his iconic pose. I took this photo in the Chobe River National Park in Botswana in July of 2006 while on safari. The Chobe area was a real haven for wildlife and especially lions! Over the course of 3 days we saw more than a dozen different lions at all times of the day and night. This morning happened to be my last at Chobe and I was happy to enjoy whatever nature was going to offer up to us that day. Our blood began to boil a bit when our intrepid and amazing ranger, Willie heard lions moaning & grunting in the predawn darkness. Amazingly, he could hear them several minutes before we became aware of them.
As we drew closer (within a mile or so)we could hear a clear baritone "call & response" between two male lions. It was a mix of sounds that ranged between a deep moan and a series of "huffs" almost as if one of the lions was trying to clear his throat. Willie informed us this was two large males who were the Alpha male of the pride and his brother and the #2 in command. They were separated overnight and were grunting to each other to clarify their locations to each other and to the rest of the pride.
We first came across the brother, who I think of as the "Lion Prince". The Prince was obviously not the leader of this group as he was clearly scarred up and had gotten the brunt of previous battles with other males (mostly his brother). Like most of the lions I encountered, he was seemingly oblivious to our safari jeep and continued calling for his brother even as we were within 25 yards of him. Almost close enough to smell his breath!
Having located him, we could then follow his brother's sounds. This led up about three quarters of a mile to the grasses near the river's edge. Here we we greeted with the warm light of dawn and two lions! The Lion King in all his regal splendor and his favored lady - dubbed the Lion Queen. Upon seeing the two of them together, you could see that they were the "IT" couple of this pride of lions. They looked like a Hollywood couple - the "Brangelina" of Chobe National Park. Both seemed to be without the scars you'd expect of lions who have risen to dominate their pride.Indeed, you could say they looked almost too perfect! Needless to say, I was not complaining as I was able to capture some of my favorite lion portraits with those two.
When I came up the the idea of "Blue Lion Photos" I knew this had to be my mascot and thus a little Photoshop work and he became the official "Blue" Lion.