An unusual sighting in the Maasai Mara - Photos courtesy of Jonathan Garrigues

January 15 2019


I met Jonathan Garrigues whilst on an educational in Tanzania in 2012 travelling with Maasai Wanderings, a wonderful inbound safari company based in Tanzania. Nasikia Camps and we have always kept in touch since. We both have a love of Africa and he is a spectacular photographer. He has sent me this story.

I was told there was a new coalition of 6 ‘young’ adult male lions called ‘the 6 boys’ and hope we might see them whilst on safari. We had had an outstanding morning in the park, where we stayed for approximately 2h30 with a female leopard joining her two cubs with food, half a newly born antelope calf:

We left them and whilst crossing some wide (and high) grass lands we stopped next to another safari vehicle standing alone in front of a male lion lying down in the grass. After a few minutes the male woke up and moved in the direction of the car. The two guides were close enough to be having a discussion went quiet because suddenly a second lion, hidden by the grass suddenly appeared and followed the first one. The only tourist in the other vehicle was really scared to see lions so close and he closed his windows.

What was unexpected is that the first lion walked in the direction of a third one that we had not noticed hidden in the grasses, and then we saw a fourth one, and a fifth one. Our guide was really excited, particularly when all of the five joined together and decided to move as one.

We had five of the six boys in front of us! Our guide moved the car farther away so as not to crowd them but in the direction where they were walking. The lions kept walking and came just in front of us and only moved around the vehicle at the last moment. This is the story behind this photo:

Jonathan says: “They were so close to me, that this photo was taken at wide angle at 24mm only (full frame format)! Even I had a loss of confidence with my windows fully open, my arms extended outside holding the camera with the first lion passing only 2 meters away, so very close to the front of the car.

We repeated this scenario 2 more times: moving the car farther, right in front of where they could pass waiting for them to come to us. The guide wanted to repeat this again, but I asked him to stop whilst parallel to them because they were walking perfectly in line, like they were moving into battle to conquer new territories. This is the story of the second photo:

This one has been taken at 46mm (full frame format), so they were very close to us once again. Then we let them go. The grass was a bit high for an absolute perfect shot from my point of view but everybody was supper happy.”

At the time I did not realise how uncommon this sighting was. I discussed it with the professional photographer who owned the camp I was staying at who was really impressed.

He told me that in more than 20 years in the Mara he had never seen five male lions walking in a line like that before. Hope you enjoyed this little story :-)

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