The Lion known as Scar
The first time I heard of the lion called Scarface was on a 2017 trip to the Maasai Mara in Kenya, where the lion roams.
A large vertical wound along the lion’s right eye, one that severed the eyelid and left sight in that eye in doubt, was the mark that made him immediately identifiable. As to how that occurred, there were a couple explanations.
The wound, said one popular story, occurred when Scar was stalking a herder’s cattle and the herder threw a machete at the lion. The second story had a herder throwing a spear.
Today the guides tell a
story that sounds like the truth:
fighting with another lion. However, Scar did have a spear encounter with a herder but that was not the cause of his eye injury.
Whichever cause you choose to believe, he is unquestionably a magnificent lion. His dark mane is easily recognizable. This is Scar in 2017.
I had heard that Scar was in the vicinity of our camp in Kenya, and I hoped we would come across him.
We set out on a late safari, heading in a direction we hadn’t been before. Quite near to camp, we found this solitary giraffe who was quite willing to pose for our cameras.
A little farther on, we reached a river and could see lions in the tall grass.
Our driver drove over the edge of the eroded bank and positioned us in a perfect spot opposite the lion.
And there I was, eye to eye with the Legend of the Mara: Scarface! Well, I would have been eye to eye about twenty-five feet from his if his eyes had been open.
For his part, he could not have cared less. He was flat on his back, paws in the air, and sound asleep.
Even legends have to sleep sometime.
A couple days later, on our last evening drive, we came across Scar and his brother Sikio. Again, Scar was asleep. We parked with several other safari vehicles and waited. A rain squall blew through, soaking the lions and everything else. A breeze blew the rain into the back of our vehicle and while we were able to keep the cameras dry, the same could not be said for us.
Finally, as we sat getting colder and colder, I asked the driver if there was a way he could lower the clear plastic curtain and thus protect us from the chilly wind. Braving sleeping lions, he did that. I had hoped he could do it from the inside and not place himself in danger, but after looking around, he jumped out and quickly untied the rolled-up canvas.
Finally, a soaking wet Scar awoke and limped toward the Cape buffalo carcass that was all but gone. Scar had a leg injury when I saw him in 2017. Time has not been kind and now his entire right hind-quarter is atrophied. His muzzle is crisscrossed with many marks of fights gone by.
Soon, he is joined by his brother Sikio. Another brother, Morani, is sleeping some distance away.
They are known as the Three Musketeers, but were once the Four Musketeers when Hunter was still alive. They have done battle many times, taking over various prides, scrapping for breeding rights. Then, they lost the Marsh Pride in another battle.
Scar has fathered many litters. Now, in his old age, which some say is more than twelve years, he can no longer hunt. He relies on his two remaining brothers or the females in the pride to keep him supplied with food.
Tens of thousands of people around the globe try to keep track of Scar. He even has his own Facebook page.
There was a lot of growling going on as the two pulled on parts of the carcass, but it never came to a fight.
Sikio seems to be claiming what’s left of the carcass. Eventually the two moved into the grass and went back to sleep.
Even warriors have to sleep sometimes.