A revered son, a brother, a king, a legend. Born in 2004, in the depths of the vast expanse of the Mara, Lorpapit ( the hairy fiery one) was always going to be the ultimate winner. Many a lion cub die young. From the ruthless rival predators, during pride takeovers, human influence, and the unforgiving elements. Loolpapit defied the odds. With chutzpah.
There was a little under 3,000 lions in Kenya then. He, in the grand scheme of things, prides himself as the unbridled warrior of them all.
A lion’s mettle, hardihood and cajones are tested to the very last ounce and sheer will power by leading a pride albeit successfully. Step forward Loolpapit flanked by Olbarnoti his equally capable and matchless brother. Together, under the tutelage of Lorpapit, they ruled Enkoyanai Pride with valour,vigour, enthusiasm, poise and everything in between. A reserve of kings.
Resident male lions thwart relentless attacks from other lions during attempted pride take overs. Their lives and those of their offsprings depend on it. Taking no prisoners as they jealously and religiously defend a kill, the lionesses and their cubs, wade off other predators anywhere near their territories.
From the annoyingly fast cheetahs to the cunning and dangerous hyenas, from the mischievous jackals to the elusive leopards all of whom aim at distabilizing the lives of their number one enemy. The apex predator.
It is hard to be king,isn’t it?
Eat first, the lion’s share, both figuratively and literally, own mating rights but fight first too. You dare not rest on your laurels as a pride leader.
A father to many, including the famous Six Pack. His genes were as great as they come. Loolpapit’s is the leader of an entire generation.
A hunter of giants to sustain his ever growing lieutenants and foot soldiers, he came, he saw and conquered all before him. From the seething buffaloes with their goring horns, from migrating gnus and zebras to topi. From the smaller sized warthogs and impalas, tommies to hares. Loolpapit led his pride to food in any form,shape or size. To him, to dare was to do.
That, until a couple of years ago. With his mane salt-and-pepper, a sign of old age and dwindling powers, he became a little overzealous and intruded into The Fig Tree Pride’s territory.He went toe to toe or is it claw to claw, eyeball to eyeball with Kaka and Maridadi.
Lions often use intimidation tactics. Full blown fights usually have grave consequences. Not to be told to Loolpapit though who won the battle but lost the war. That, after sustaining an injury to his hind leg. Almost incapacitated, it was the natural turn of his brother to take over the reins and for the longest time. In utter anguish and total disbelief for the dethroned king, what was once his pride and his territory were no longer his.
There is pride and safety in numbers. As his pride ably hunted and lived in Doublecross area and occasionally in the edge of Olare Motorongi Conservancy, feeding and defending him. The shoe was firmly in the other foot. Loolpapit grew frail and weaker. His injuries compounded by old age, it was a matter of when not if.
At a time when the numbers are plummeting alarmingly, the role of Loolpapit in maintaining the current numbers cannot be underestimated.
Every leader, great as they may be, must take the exit door. This, right here, is Lorpapit’s time. A trailblazer who fought to the very last breathe without dropping his head. With aplomb. With conviction. At 16, his race is run. The last king of his generation, standing.
Shine in your way. Roar on. Lead on. March on.
So long, Lorpapit.
Photos By:- Mohammed Billow Wildlife Photography From Aquila safaris Kenya