The biggest lion pride that we see at Sabi Sabi numbers 15 lions – and is quite a sight to behold. One afternoon I heard on the safari radio that the lions were sleeping on an open area of short grass on the western side of our reserve. More often than not, lions spend their time in the longer grass as this offers them camouflage. This makes it hard to get nice photos as there is always a blade of grass in the way, obscuring some part of the body or across the face.
I quickly packed up my cameras and headed off to the sighting. When I arrived the lions were just waking up and the sun was setting. Lions spend about 18 hours a day sleeping so to find them awake is always a challenge. Knowing the behavior pattern of my subject well, which always helps, led me to place myself between the lions and a small pool of water in a drainage line at the bottom of the short grass area. In all likelihood the lions would be thirsty after their sleep and would head off for a drink.
The light was now just perfect – soft and warm. I used my 200- 400 f4 lens and set the camera to 1/1600; enough speed to freeze movement but also slow enough that I could get a little bit of depth. I was going to frame the picture with some of the background. One of the younger lionesses got up and walked straight towards me. The low angle of the setting sun lit up her eyes and the red from a termitarium in the background framed the photograph beautifully. The result is this memorable moment.