The lion king is no more: the most beautiful lion in Africa killed by young rivals

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Bob Jr., who has been hailed as Africa’s most photogenic lion, was killed by his rivals. He was 10 to 13 years old.

The striking lion with amber eyes and a golden black mane – who was named after his father, nicknamed Bob Marley by tour guides after the famous Jamaican reggae singer because of his distinctive shiny hair – once ruled on his pride in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Local media and wildlife tour groups said the ‘King of the Serengeti’ was killed over the weekend by a pack of younger, fitter lions – and some of them may have been be related to him.

Bob Jr., also known as Snyggve, “has always been an exceptionally beautiful animal,” Craig Packer, professor and director of the University of Minnesota’s Lion Research Center, said by phone from the nearby preserve. of Maasai Mara.

“This male lived in an area where he was very visible and would knock your socks off because he was so handsome,” Packer said of Bob Jr. “He had such a lush, impressive mane that people would react immediately. to that. , and all he had to do was sit down.

Keith Somerville, a British conservationist and author of ‘Humans and Lions’, said he last saw Bob. Jr in 2016. He was exceptionally photogenic, Somerville said, but it was his mane that stood out the most. “I’ve seen so many lions, and I’ve never seen a lion with such an amazing mane,” he said.

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Serengeti National Park did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Tanzanian media reported that Bob Jr. was killed by three young rivals during a territorial battle near the Namiri Plains.

“I think this is quite normal and part of the cycle of life, where the survival of the fittest rules,” said Rob Marchant, professor of tropical ecology at the University of York.

“I don’t know what lions killed Bob Jr., but it’s highly likely that his offspring – now young and in better shape – did it. I’m sure Bob Jr.’s genes will live on through the many offspring he has sired over the years,” Marchant said.

On average, Serengeti lions reach their maximum size around age 4, Packer said, and are considered over the hill by age 12.

They rise to the top of their social order by operating in “coalitions”, he added, as groups of male lions hold off competitors for females and food. The loudness of a lion’s roar is often an indicator of potential rivals for dominance and coalition numbers, he said.

“We’re so individualistic…but it’s a numbers game lions play. If there’s a younger but bigger group, then they’re going to be on the rise at the expense of the fewer and older ones,” Packer added.

Bob Jr. — breaking away from the Disney movie arc “The Lion King” – reigned in a relationship with his brother Tryggve. His brother, known as “Marley”, is reported having been killed in a separate but related battle.

“It’s normal – that’s usually what happens,” said Packer, who works in conservation and has spent time with Bob. Jr when he was little. “He was eventually ousted and killed by a trio.”

“He was much, much older and alone. … It’s sad, but that’s also the way lions live,” Somerville added. However, the young cubs of his pride could now seek revenge, he added, or risk being killed in turn by the new rulers.

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The Tanzania Times mourned the loss of “probably the most beautiful lion in East Africa”, but said Bob Jr. “ends his legacy with honour”.

A safari group, Asilia Africa, has paid tribute to Bob Jr. for his “distinctive, lush black mane”, calling him “one of Africa’s most iconic lions”, whose life has been a “journey incredible takeovers and loss of pride.

Serengeti National Park is home to at least 3,000 lions, as well as elephants, rhinos, wildebeest and other wildlife. The Northern Tanzania Park is also a United Nations World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every year.

Bob Jr. “lived a great life,” Packer said. “The way he died is the way most men go who achieve that exalted status – it’s the price they pay.”

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