Behind the Shot - Hatari
Hatari means "Danger" in Swahili, and I found it a fitting title for this particular photograph.
We all have heard the stories of "man eating" lions, and we have all watched Ghost in the Darkness, but in reality incidents of lions attacking people are extremely rare.
We are perceived by these animals as the apex predator and they almost never attack humans unless they feel trapped or threatened.
In some rare cases, however, lions can become aggressive towards people, especially in areas where the poaching pressure is high and human-wildlife conflict Is prevalent.
I took this image in 2019, while scouting for a conservation project in Western Tanzania, and talking to the local rangers, we heard about a pride of lion that indeed seemed to have develop such behaviour, and apparently had been responsible for some incidents against poachers in the area.
Is very hard in these cases to discern how true a story is, especially as those incidents are extremely rare.
Nevertheless we were aware of the presence of lions in the area and we took all precautions not to disturb the pride or to actively pursue them but on an early morning we saw a pride of about 18 lions living in the early morning sun in the open plains.
As soon as the leading female saw us she started to behave very aggressively and started charging the vehicle, from about 200 meters away. Usually these charges are a merely way to scare off potential threats and are rarely followed through.
This time was different though, and the other 5 females joined in the charge, growling and coming at us full speed.
We were on the back of an open pick-up truck and we started to tell the driver (in the front cabin) to speed up as the lionesses were gaining ground.
The 6 lionesses quickly catched up with us, also due to the the treacherous terrain that made impossible for our driver to go faster.
Eventually we gained speed and we outran the group of lions.
Here you can see the sequence of the images I managed to capture!
I was standing on the left of the pick up truck and I managed to take a few burst of photographs at the lionesses charging at us. I managed to get one in focus and this is the resulting image.
Once we drove far enough we calmed down and started discussing what happened and later, talking to the rangers of the area, we came to the conclusions that that was indeed the man-eating pride that was responsible of the incidents against the poachers.
Definitely an adventure to remember and one of the pictures I am proudest of.
Till the next one!