|The Lions’ Gallery contains 286 high-resolution photographs of lions, shot in their natural habitat, with utmost respect for the undisputed King of Beasts, the lion.
Majority of these photographs have been taken using 200-400 mm and 100-400 mm lenses on Canon 1Dx and 7D mounts, in different light conditions, during summer and winter months.
Lugging the heavy camera equipment in the safety and confines on the jeep, the jungle safari offers an excellent opportunity to the photographers, to shoot the truly majestic lion, even from close quarters. The speed and reliability of the 4 wheels jeep, makes it the most popular form of transport used by wildlife photographers, the world over.
Nupur’s love for wildlife photography has resulted in her capturing virtually every mood of the legendary and majestic creature, including some rare mating shots.
It is often difficult to take good pictures in poor light conditions as the use of flash is prohibited in wildlife photography, so as not to startle and annoy the wild animals. This is perhaps an area where Nupur has shown remarkable skills.
Geo-tagging the Wildlife Images
The photographs showcased in the Lions’ Gallery have been taken in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in the State of Gujarat in India, Kruger National Park and Pilanesberg
Game Reserve in South Africa.
The Gir National Park
The Gir National Park is perhaps one of the most unique wildlife sanctuaries in Asia, as it is home to the pure breed Asiatic lions, a species found only in this part of the world. The sanctuary has many interesting drives, unique trees and lakes. And of course the people that live around the area, which have now been recognized by the lions themselves as part of their family.
Gir is nothing short of spectacular between October and March when the weather is cool and the lions laze in the sun, unconcerned with the groups of noisy tourists, in numerous jeep safaris surrounding them and taking pictures. A low guttural sound or a mock charge by an irritated lion is enough to scare the tourists away.
Even as late as April and May, when the temperatures rise, Gir resonates with the sound of lions roaring, perhaps the most awe inspiring and primitive sounds imaginable. Gir is equally magical in Monsoon, when the forest explodes in an abundance of green.
As seasons change the wild changes both character and mood.
Kruger National Park (South Africa)
The Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa.It is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest game parks where you could drive for hours without seeing another car. All the Big Five game animals are found at Kruger National Park, which has more species of large mammals than any other African Game Reserve (at 147 species). There are webcams set up to observe the wildlife.
It has been praised for its endeavor’s in nature conservation, professional management of wildlife and African cultural heritage. Over the last two years, fences that separated the Kruger National Park from neighboring reserves have been removed allowing wildlifegreater access to natural resources as well as increasing the game viewing opportunities for tourists. South Africa offers one of the best light conditions in the world, for photographers.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve (South Africa)
Pilanesberg Game Reserve is located next to the Sun City in South Africa. Here tourists are never far from nature. The quality of light, the unbroken horizon and the clean dry air, offers excellent opportunity for the wildlife photographers to shoot all creatures big and small.
In the company of Lions
The lion is a magnificent animal and there is something about it that grabs the imagination of humans. It is easy to feel awe in the company of lions; their presence leaves you with the knowledge that you are alive only because the animal lets you live. There is a feeling of quite power in their eyes. The fact that they are used to people and are semi – tame makes them in fact more dangerous. There innate fear of humans has nearly disappeared. Many traditional tribes who have lived through the generations can be found walking with just a stick in their hands.
The magnificent lion was declared India’s National animal before Tiger replaced it. It has been venerated since the reign of Emperor Ashoka, whose pillars at Sarnath continue to represent India across the Globe.
The lions are territorial and organize themselves into groups called Prides, whose members interact peacefully with each other. The core group of the pride consists of closely related lioness and their offspring’s. A group of male lions numbering between two to seven may associate with one or more such female groups. The male groups are referred to as ‘male coalitions.’ The males petrol their territory and regularly mark their boundaries to proclaim their ownership. They also roar regularly, especially through the cooler hours of the day and night to warn off potential intruders.
The tenure of male coalitions is limited(on an average of about three years) as the younger and the stronger males constantly attempt to displace older territorial lions. This gives them access to the pride females and presents mating opportunities. Sub adult lions and displaced older lions lead a wandering life without holding a territory. They are referred to as nomads, where as the settled ones are called ‘pride’ or ‘territorial’ lions.
No bigger than the Indian lion, the male lion in Africa has much darker and luxuriant mane, which covers its ears and shoulders. In contrast the Asiatic lion has a scantier mane than its African counterpart, a fuller coat, a longer tassel of hair at the end of its tail joints and a more pronounced tuft on the elbow joints.
A home away from home
There has been a long controversy about the need to relocate a few lions to some alternative site, so that there could be at least two locations in case of a natural disaster hitting Gir. The alternate site suggested at present is Kuno in Madhya Pradesh, but the government of Gujarat refuses to give up its lions to another State. The project has thus been on hold for several years.