Lions MM7947Wet lions in the Serengeti

Location: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Name: Lion, Panthera leo
Description: C-Boy, foreground, a blackmaned male, and his coalition partner Hildur hunker down in the rain. They travel with the Vumbi Pride, a plains pride of 5 females. C-Boy and Hildur were once resident males of a better territory but were pushed out by a coalition of 4 males called the Killers. Close bonds between the males is important in providing an allied defense against intruders.
By: Michael Nichols, National Geographic

Scientists have long thought that the main reason that lions band together is to hunt – that food, essentially, is the evolutionary force behind their social bonds. Recently, though, it has emerged that the close bonds between males are moulded by another pressure: the actions of mutual rivals. C-Boy, a black-maned male lion, and his coalition partner Hildur, once controlled a superior territory in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, but they were deposed by a squad of four males known to researchers as the Killers. Nick came across C-boy and Hildur hunkered down in the rain. Though he had spent many months photographing Serengeti lions, he had spent most of his time with larger prides of females. ‘I had never before seen these two senior coalition males together,’ he says. They were used to the car that Nick was in, so he was able to use a simple zoom lens and ambient light. The rain isn’t as unwelcome as their expressions suggest: when water is scarce, the closely bonded pair lick drops from their own and each other’s fur.
Canon EOS-1D X + 70-200mm f2 lens; 1/350 sec at f2.8; ISO 400.

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