“The king’s rule is like the sun, which rises and sets. One day, I will set with the sun. When the sun rises, you will rise together and become the new king.” In the animation “The Lion King”, Simba the lion Find your place in the cycle of life and take back your throne.
In reality, in the Sabison Reserve in South Africa, the photographer used the lens to record the tragic scene of a lion: it licked its wound in the afterglow of the setting sun, and its figure gradually disappeared into the twilight, ending with the setting sun …
Growing beasts fight for hegemony, princes and princesses are doomed
The story takes place in Mpumalanga Province in eastern South Africa, which is the largest hunting town in South Africa. The famous Kruger National Park is located here, and the Sabison Reserve is adjacent to it. Sabison Reserve gets its name from the names of two rivers that run from north to south – the Sen River and the Sabie River. With a vast area of 650 square kilometers and abundant water resources, this protected area is very popular with animals, and the wildlife is diverse. Former South African President Nelson Mandela called it “a model of nature protection in South Africa.”
If there are too many animals, there will be territorial disputes. The lion is known as the “king of beasts”, and fighting is the eternal theme in the life of a lion. In the Sabison Reserve, two elderly male lions suffering from bovine tuberculosis form the “Loracster Alliance” and rule the Styx pride, barely holding on to their territory.
The eldest brother of the Loraxter Alliance, Loraxter (referred to as Lao Luo), has a smart mind and strong leadership ability. The young lion “Styx Boy” is the son of Lao Luo. This alliance was once composed of a few strong young male lions, and once flourished in the Sabison area, but the good times didn’t last long. Most of Lao Luo’s allies left one after another due to illness or other reasons, and failed to move forward together. In 2006, Lao Luo took the only remaining ally to occupy the Styx Lions. The arrival of the new leader brought vitality to the Styx Lions. In 2008, Styx boy, his sister Styx girl, and seven other cubs were born. At this time, the “Bad Boys Alliance”, known as the incarnation of the devil in the Sabison Reserve, was in crisis. The Movas brothers in the alliance came to a new territory and started a new round of iron-blooded conquest.
Among the many images that can be recorded by human beings, whether it is predation or struggle, the Movas brothers have the upper hand. They are like Satan among the lions. Unfortunately, the Styx lions have also become the target of attack. Lao Luo dragged his frail body, compromised, fought, and endured. He fought to the end and tried his best to protect the lions. However, he was defeated, and from then on, the Styx Lions disappeared into the endless night like a little fire.
The first thing to do in the change of kingship in a lion group is to clean up the offspring of the previous lion king and those female lions who refused to submit. In fact, most of the lionesses of the Styx pride succumbed to the new lion king, and the mother of the Styx boy was no exception. She abandoned her siblings and accepted the change of dynasty.
But there is one lioness in the Styx lion group who does not give in. She is the elderly lioness known as “Grandma Styx”. Grandma Styx and her nine lion cubs, including Styx siblings, started a life of escape in Sabison. Facing the pursuit of the Movas brothers and various predators, she did not give up any of the cubs. In the following year, the seven lion cubs died one after another in the fierce pursuit. Grandma Styx led the surviving Styx brothers and sisters to live in the grassland. She dragged her old body and finally fell to the shore due to illness. .
So far, Styx and Styx have started a wandering life dependent on each other.
Wandering and seeking perfection, still have the longing for home
At this time, Styx sister and brother were only one year old, equivalent to less than ten years old for human beings. It is reasonable to say that there is almost no possibility for them to survive in the lion group full of wars. But during the year of wandering with Grandma Minghe, the siblings grew up rapidly and mastered some survival skills. We can see in the documentary that they come out at night, feed on leftovers, and survive in the cracks.
The eldest sister is like a mother. After losing the protection of Grandma Minghe, the elder sister took on the responsibility of taking care of her younger brother. She loves her brother very much, even when she gets very little food and is hungry, she will leave food for him, and this is just what we can see from the shooting screen. Later, the younger brother gradually grew up and possessed a strong enough physique and fighting power. However, in the face of the pursuit of the Mowas brothers and other lions, the older sister would also distract the lions for the younger brother to gain a chance to escape. No one knows what kind of hardships and dangers she has to go through outside the camera and her narrow escape from death.
After two years of suffering from hunger, cold and starvation, the “royal blood” in the Styx boy gradually awakened. He grew up quickly, became burly and ferocious, and became a powerful hunter who could protect his sister. He even created a legend of single-killing an adult bison. This is also the earliest record of a cub killing an adult bison recorded by the filming team. At this time, the achievement held by the Styx boy is beyond the reach of many adult lions, and the siblings no longer have to eat leftovers.
It is rare for a wandering lion to die well. Joining the lion pride is the obsession of every lion, and the Styx boy is no exception. He longed day and night to have a family, and this obsession inspired them to try to integrate with other lions again and again. But he showed his favor frequently and bowed his head to give in, but what he got in return was only sharp claws and ruthless rejection. Relying on struggle to win among the lions may not be difficult for the Styx boy today, but he doesn’t. He still fantasizes about having a harbor as warm as his childhood. Obviously, retreat and persistence cannot move other lions.
In the natural world where the fittest survive, African lions face enormous pressure to survive. Not only do they have to face the impact of human activities, but they also have to fight hard against diseases and natural enemies, and it is not uncommon for lions to snatch territory among lions. The pictures on the left and right pages are African lions.