Lioness, Upside Down
Caption: Lioness (Panthera leo), while lying on her back with head on the grass, keeps an eye on us from this unusual position, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L; Focal length: 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/640; Aperture: f/8; ISO 800
We were watching two lionesses, more than likely sisters, affectionately nuzzling and licking each other (below), when the one rolled on her back briefly, all the while keeping her gaze on us. I find the image quite intriguing because of the direct eye contact from an unexpected angle.
Lions are regarded as the only truly sociable cats, with social licking and head rubbing being common among members of a lion pride. It is assumed this behavior plays a part in reinforcing social bonds, as does the greeting ceremony performed by lions.
According to Richard Despart Estes (The Behavior Guide to African Mammals), “pride members have to go through the greeting ceremony whenever they meet, as a proof of membership in the pride and of peaceful intentions”.
Caption: Two lionesses, members of the same pride, affectionately nuzzling and head-rubbing, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.
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