The Lazy Lions of Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

31 May

In February of 1988, while stationed at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Saudi Arabian Mission (Jeddah, KSA), I had a chance to spend two weeks at Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge, the site of the early hominid paleontological excavation made famous by Dr. Raymond Dart and L.S.B. Leakey. While there, I was invited to go on several weekend “game drives” with the folks at Abercrombie & Kent Outfitters. The following pics are of my favorite subjects, the African Lions (Panthera leo) of Ngorongoro Crater.

Male Lion Ngorongoro Crater

My first shot of a solitary male African Lion.
(Click on image to see a larger version.)

Most of these photos were taken with my newly-purchased Nikon F camera and a 17-85 mm kit-grade zoom lens. Bouncing along rough bush tracks made for difficult focusing, and the poor-quality of film processing (DIY), combined with the lossy technology used to convert the images to digital format required a good deal of Photoshopping on my part. Hope you like them anyway…

Wary Male Lion - Ngorongoro Crater

A wary male lion watches intently as my Land Rover passes by at a respectful distance.
(Click on image to see a larger version.)

I never ceased to be amazed by how all of the animals (both predator and prey) in Ngorongoro Crater seemed NOT to be perturbed by the intrusion upon their privacy of four-wheeled tourists. I asked my driver why this was: He was of the opinion that, early on, the lions had figured out that Land Rover and human tourist were one-and-the-same creature and so much too large to contemplate as a potential meal. However, the minute the human occupant stepped outside his vehicle he became a menu item.

mature male lion & lioness

“Look, dear: Meals-On-Wheels!!!”
(Click on image to see a larger version.)

The following are photos of the members of a pride of mature lionesses (accompanied by a lone sub-adult male) that were so blasé about motor vehicles in their midst that they allowed my driver to pull right up next to them as if they were lounging curbside on a city street! Of course, I didn’t roll down my window to chat…

#1 five females Ngorongoro Crater rim

Five females sleeping at the base of the rim of Ngorongoro Crater.
(Click on image to see a larger version.)

five females

We were close enough to hear them snoring and yawning!
(Click on image to see a larger version.)

two female lions Ngorongoro Crater

“Geez! Can’t a girl take a nap without having all these tourists underfoot?”

two female lions Ngorongoro Crater

“That’s it! Can’t sleep with people watching. I’m outta here…”

female Lion Ngorongoro Crater

“Yawn… gosh, it can’t be time to get up yet! Think I’ll sleep in a bit.”

Makes me tired just lookin’ at these lazy lions…

To see some more photographs from my time in Tanzania and Kenya, go to my photo galleries website, FOOTPRINTS IN PARADISE: Tanzania & Kenya 1988.

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