In Search of the King – December 2009

Shot of the Month – December 2009

This month some celebrate the birth of the King of Kings.  One Christmas story tells how three wise men were aided by a bright star that led them to the new King.

While less transcendent, three men (also less wise) were aided in finding the king of the animal world allowing me to capture this regal portrait of the male lion.

Our journey began on a crisp morning in Botswana as myself, a visiting friend, and our guide/driver (the three wise-ish men) left camp in our Toyota Landcruiser (all out of camels) in search of royalty.  A few minutes on the trail and we heard the roar of a lion.  We drove in that direction and found a young male lion walking with purpose.  The young lion was agitated; he was clearly trying to find his missing pride.

Finally after 20 minutes of plaintive calls and walking hither and tither, we heard a bellow off in the distance.  Our young prince looked hopeful and called again and walked briskly in the direction of the deep roar.  After another 10 minutes of the lion equivalent of “Marco Polo” the young lion led us to the magnificent black-manned lion in this photo.  He was with a female and it was clear that they were a mating couple.  Their reunion was full of head bumps and body rubs.  The animal lover in me reveled in the moment and the photographer in me went giddy as the sun finally rose above the horizon and an orange beam of light basked the lion in this heavenly glow.  Click….sigh.

During this holiday season I hope that you will likewise manage to reconnect with those dear to you and revel in the simple pleasure of being together.  A warm head bump to you all.

(Speaking of great reunions.  In 1969 two Australians living in the center of Londonbought a lion cub at Harrods department store.  After a few months it became clear that Christian, the lion, was becoming too big to live in the city.  Rather than put him in a zoo they persuaded conservationist George Adamson (remember “Born Free”?) in Kenya to take Christian and teach him how to live in the wild.  A year later the men returned to Africato see how their now wild lion cub was doing.  See the amazing reunion here )