Well, not really. Quite often when you see a photograph of a yawning lion, the photographer will try to make you believe that it was snarling. When a lion starts yawning, the first part of the yawn will clearly look like a yawn, but at the very end of it, the expression on the face of the lion will indeed look like a growl or a snarl.
To make people believe that a lion is snarling when it is actually yawning, will spread the wrong idea about these cats, and will unnecessarily portray them as monsters. Humans like to monsterize predators, and that’s why we get Predator Week, Shark Week, The Deadliest This and The Deadliest That on television. It’s a shame, because these beautiful animals are so much more than just killing machines.
This lioness looks pretty vicious, but you guessed it – she’s yawning. Lions spend most of the day sleeping. A male may sleep from 18 to 20 hours a day. However following a large meal, these male cats may actually sleep an entire 24 hours of a day. Female lions are not far behind their male counterparts. They will easily sleep 15 to 18 hours a day. They spend more time caring for the pride and hunting.
In just a few months, I will lead two photo tours in Botswana where we will focus our attention on lions, and especially on lions hunting buffalo.
One of the places we will visit is Duba Plains, an island in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. The island has a herd of about 2,000 Cape buffalo, and a large pride of lions. Both buffalo and lion got there over a decade ago in a year when crossing the channels was possible. Since then both have pretty much been trapped on the island. For reasons nobody fully understands, the Duba lions mainly hunt during daylight – the reverse of the situation in most parts of Africa. This is obviously perfect for photography and our chances to see some lion action are much bigger here than anywhere else in Africa.
If you’ve never been to Botswana, then you absolutely should. It’s wildlife photography heaven. Our first tour is fully booked, but we have three openings on the 25 April – 4 May trip.
If you’re interested, then please check out the Botswana tour page for more information on this trip.
Hope to see you there!