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Big Cats

Big Cats
Photo Information
Copyright: Karan Little (hester) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Black & White
Date Taken: 2008-08-17
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon 40D, Canon 70-300mm DO IS USM
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/125 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-08-22 11:10
Viewed: 9630
Points: 54
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I have taken a short break from the site but it was time to return for a few postings. This shot was taken at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a big cat charity in Kent. They are an active partner in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programmes (EEP)and are not open to the public.

Lion facts from the BBC:

Panthera leo
Lions are unique in that they are the only cats to live in groups (prides). The male lion is also the only cat to have a mane, giving it a regal appearance that has earned it the title of 'king of the beasts'.

Africa: P.l.leo, P.l.azandica, P.l.bleyenberghi, P.l.krugeri, P.l.nubica, P.l.senegalensis,
Asia: P.l.persica.

Life span
Lions live for 12-16 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity.

Body length: 170-190cm , Tail length: 70-150cm, Shoulder height: 80-110cm, Weight: male: 150-225kg, Female: 120-150kg. Males are much larger than females and can be 50 per cent heavier.

Physical description
Lions vary in colour from nearly white to deep ochre brown but tawny yellow is the commonest shade. Male lions develop thick woolly manes on the neck and shoulders, signifying maturity. The mane protects the lion during fights with other males. It also differentiates between genders from a distance across savannah plains and is an indicator of fitness. Lions are the only cats to have a mane, suggesting it is linked to their unusual social system. Lions are also the only cats to have a tuft at the end of their tail.

Cubs are born with spots, which disappear as they get older, although the spots sometimes persist on their legs and belly.

Lions once ranged from north Africa through south west Asia, west into Europe (where they became extinct 2000 years ago) and east into India. Now their distribution is patchy and they are only found in reserves and national parks south of the Sahara and in the Gir Forest, India.

Lions are quite adaptable and can be found living on desert fringe, in woodland or open savannah, but are absent from equatorial forests.

Lions hunt by ambush. Their main prey includes medium to large-sized mammals such as antelope, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, warthog and deer, but they will also scavenge for food. Asiatic lions in particular also prey on domestic cattle. Lions can survive for long periods without water, obtaining moisture from prey and plants.

Lions live in groups called prides. The pride may consist of up to twelve related adult females and their young, and up to six adult males who are probably related to each other but not to the females. Prides can range from 3-30 individuals, but average 4-6. Theories as to why lions live in social groups include increased hunting success, defence of young, maintenance of long-term territories, insurance against individual injury and minimisation of chances of getting no food at all.

Of all the big cats, the lion is the only one which relies extensively on group co-operation. Lionesses tend to stay in the pride they are born in. This makes the group a collection of sisters, aunts, mothers and grandmothers who have grown up together. Males are expelled from the pride that they are born in once they reach maturity. They usually form coalitions with other males (often relations) with whom they hunt and scavenge for food.

Females tend to do most of the hunting for the whole pride. They hunt cooperatively, each individual taking on a different role. The larger lionesses tend to ambush prey which the females on the wings chase in her direction. Lions usually hunt at night.

Male lions defend the pride against intruders. They mark key points of the territory with urine and patrol the boundaries regularly, roaring to warn other lions of their presence. Competition between males to head a pride is fierce, and males tend to hold ownership for only 2-3 years. Fights for possession of a pride are vicious and may result in serious injury or death.

Females will tend to come into oestrus simultaneously and thus most of the cubs are born at the same time. Lionesses give birth to 2-5 cubs, after a gestation period of 100-116 days. The cubs are cared for by all the females in the pride, and will suckle from other females as well as from their mother.

Forteen to seventy three per cent of all lion cubs die before they reach the age of two (varies according to location). A new male in a pride will kill all the cubs which has the effect of bringing the females into oestrus. This means that only he will be the father of the cubs in the pride.

Conservation status
African lions are listed as Vulnerable by the 2000 IUCN red list. The Asiatic lion (P.l.persica) is classed as Critically Endangered. Threats include hunting, loss of habitat and human encroachment.

One of the few animals that will attack lions are hyenas, which will kill an injured lion, or if food is scarce, will occasionally attack a healthy one. Lions and hyenas also have been known to kill each other in fights over prey.

cicindela, nglen, vanderschelden, Evelynn, jaycee, techranger, eqshannon, JoseMiguel, gracious, Seabird, boreocypriensis, mala-zaba, dec, cataclysta, RII, angela926, SelenE, strahos, Alex99 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-08-22 11:37]

Hi Karan. Its good to see you again. And somthing different from you as well. Your Black and white picture shows us a very good well detailed close up of the male lion. The eyes say it all in this one he has such a sad look about him. But a beautiful portrait. well done TFs.Interesting notes too.

Have a good weekend.

Hello Karan,
Good close up. Beautiful eyes.
I just read in wikipedia there are over 1000 African lions in zoos and parks around the world. Not an awful lot. I thought there were a lot more.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-08-22 12:43]

Wow!! What a shot, Karan!
Striking portrait of this Lion.
Those eyes are so piercing!
Excellent detail and excellent clarity.
Great B+W medium.

Very finely done,


  • Great 
  • mariki Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 838 W: 60 N: 2307] (9477)
  • [2008-08-22 12:43]

Hello Karan,

Excellent portrait of this big cat. I like very much the expression in its eyes. Very good choice of the black and white. Excellent sharpness.

wow i love this lions head done in b/w and the tilt is just perfect you caught the expression just right. tfs

What a stunning photo. The way the face fills the frame. the black and white adds to the power of it. Its beautifully sharp and yet there is this wistfull softness to the face. the eyes are beautiful and draw you in. they look kind, for an animal that can be leathal.
A wonderful wonderful shot. Thanks for sharing it.


Hi Karan,

I like your choice of B & W for this shot. The sharpness and good contrast in values are really nice. I like the pensive pose and the sideways gaze.

Evelynn : )

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-08-22 16:37]

Oh, Karan, he is just wonderful. His eyes are magnificent. Beautiful features - the nose and mouth are marvelous too. Excellent details - I love the whiskers. Wonderful in black and white with razor sharp details. His expression is beautiful.


Great shot of this thoughtful king of the beasts. No color needed... very rich looking in B&W. Excellent contrast.


Ho neat and I like the special way you presented it..your coming back is much grander than the leave....it is a majestic image and one that will do some blessings here that you may not even know of...Very neat! In more ways than most will now.

Hi Karan,
So good to have you back!
And in such a great way, with this very impressive close portrait of the imposing cat.
Just love the way you filled the frame, and the magnificent side pose.
Just for curiosity, why did you choose the b&w?
Perhaps just a matter of mood?
My compliments and thanks for the post.
Best regards,

Hello Karan,
How are you and quite a while have not seen posting and nice to see you back, my friend!
beautiful portriat of the King with good closeness! I loved this too in a B/W version!
great details in the image
well done
take care and regards

Hello Karan!
This is a nice break from colourful images, I like this B-W photo of lion :)
Very nice portrait with good sharpness and DOF.
TFS and best regards,

Hi, Karan,

what an excellent portrait of a handsome lion. great details and composition. thanks for sharing.

Man Yee

Hi Karan,
What a splendid facial expression:) Realy perfect and impressive with great details.
TFS and Cheers,

Hi Karan,
Great B&W portrait! Good composition, nice eye catch light and very sharp details. I like your B&W traitment.

Karan, This is such an outstanding photo. You did a great job capturing it. Have a great weekend. Bill

If you have time, check out my website:

Ciao Karan, splendid portrait of great king with wonderful expression and fantastic eyes, very well done, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-08-25 9:59]

Hi Karan,
Outstanding close up portrait of this big cat with such amazing details. Excellent lighting and exposure and I like your idea of B/W. really looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Karan
King of th jungle ;-) Beautiful photo. Great tight crop. Good contrast - looks great on BW image. Also beautiful eyes of the lion
Best wishes

  • Great 
  • RII Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 481 W: 0 N: 895] (2862)
  • [2008-08-28 21:39]

Hi Karan.

Wowwww the lion king,wonderful portrait b/w, the point of view and pose is mgnific,very nice details and sharpness,great capture.Good note.


Hello Karan,
nice black and white capture, excellent sharpness and details, great pose and very nice catchlight in his eye.
Well done.
good to see you again.

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-09-06 8:50]

Hi Karan,
What a beautiful portrait of this big guy. I like the expression you captured a lot. Looks very handsome :o) I also liked your choice of B&W. TFS
All the best,

Fantastic portrait! Great pose of the head! Very nice choice of b/w! Great notes! Artistic job!

Hiya Karan!
Sorry, Didn't know you were back!
This looks like a model posin for a shoot!the best lion shot I've ever seen!
Goes where it belongs...into my favs!

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-09-08 9:20]

Hi Karan.
I cannot imagine better portrait of the majestic animal. Great framing, amazing use W/B tones, terrific sharpness and lights and a key point is fantastic reproduction of its state of soul. Bravo. Great work.

Great shot! The B&W brings out the kinglu nature of the beast. I would have preferred a little more sharpness. Anyways, complimets on taking such a high quality shot. Thanks for sharing.

Din duda un bello retrato.
Un abrazo !

very beautiful shot. a well done close up:) thanks for shring

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