Male Lion (Panthera leo)
Lions are the only cats that live in groups, which are called prides. Prides are family units that may include up to three males, a dozen or so females, and their young. All of a pride's lionesses are related, and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age. Young males eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male. Female lions are the pride's primary hunters. They often work together to prey upon antelopes, zebras, wildebeest, and other large animals of the open grasslands. Many of these animals are faster than lions, so teamwork pays off.
Lions once roamed freely across most parts of Africa but have disappeared from 83% of their historical range on the continent. They are now only found in parts of southern and eastern Africa and in the southern part of the Sahara Desert. A growing human population that needs food and income poses challenges, with farming, hunting, retaliatory killing, rabies and distemper from domestic dogs the primary cause of their continued decline and demise.
This magnificent male was happily feasting on a baby giraffe in the Savute region of Botswana. The mother had been killed nearby and the entire pride was occupied with either eating or sleeping in the sweltering heat. This particular fellow had such an amazing battle scared face, a glorious mane and mesmerizing golden eyes, I was compelled to zoom in close to capture the detail and satisfied expression.