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In photos:

In photos: Lion King IRL

09 Aug 2019


Happy World Lion Day! We would be lion if we said we weren’t super excited about this very special day of the year. Lions are top predators in their environment, whether that’s grasslands, desert or open woodland. It means they play a crucial role in keeping a healthy balance of numbers among other animals, especially herbivores like zebra and wildebeest – which in turn influences the condition of grasslands and forests – and as we all know, this forms the great Circle of Life.


To help celebrate the Kings and Queens of the jungle (and to celebrate one of our favourite movies of all time being back in the cinema) we’ve compiled some very special IRL photos of the familiar faces you might recognise from the Pride Lands.


Pride Rock

Male lion sleeping on a rock, Tanzania © Veronica Joseph / WWF Aus

“The lion sleeps tonight.”


A cat nap on Pride Rock in Tanzania. Did you know that lions doze for about 20 hours each day?

Pride Lands

Male lion with a herd of oryx, Botswana © Thuto Moutloatse

“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.”


Powerful and majestic, the king of the beasts has no natural predators.


Southern yellow-billed hornbill in flight, Botswana  © WWF-US / Jeff Muller

“That's *Mr.* Banana Beak to you, Fuzzy.”


While there’s no scientific evidence that Red-billed hornbills serve in advisory roles to a lion monarchy, it is true that this species is found through much of sub-Saharan Africa, outside the continent’s central rain forests.

Baby Simba

Lion cub playing with adult male Namibia © / Adrian Davies / WWF

“Oh I just can't wait to be king.”


Simba is the Swahili word for ‘lion’, and also means ‘king’, ‘strong’ and ‘aggressive’.

Simba & Nala

Two lion cubs playing with a stick, Maasai Mara © Richard Barrett / WWF-UK

“Pinned ya again!”


Females lions in the same pride often give birth around the same time, so cubs usually have a few playmates to grow up with.

Simba Leaves Home

Close up of a lion cub, Botswana © Michael Miller

“Danger, ha! I look on the wild side. I laugh at the face of danger!”


As a lone male lion, Simba would be considered a ‘nomad’. Nomads range far and wide, usually following migrating herds.

Pumba & Timon

A warthog in the grass, Kruger National Park © Christiaan van der Hoeven / WWF-Netherlands


A meerkat scans the landscape, South Africa © Gavin Lautenbach

“Home is where your rump rests.”


Learn more about the amazing grasslands these characters call home and how we can protect them.

'Hakuna Matata'

A lion lounges in a tree, Serengeti National Park © Veronica Joseph / WWF Aus

"It means no worries, for the rest of your days."


Once thought to be a very rare occurrence, lions in trees is now quite a common sight in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Climbing trees is not a natural behaviour for lions, however it’s thought that younger lions in prides see older lions climb trees and copy so the habit remains in the pride. 

The Return of Simba

Male lion running through grassland, Tanzania © Steve Morello / WWF

“Remember who you are.”


Lions can reach speeds of up to 81 kph, but only in short bursts.

Natural Enemies

A spotted hyena, Kenya © Ola Jennersten WWF-Sweden

“Make mine a cub sandwich, what you think?”


Hyenas outnumber lions and use their larger populations to compete with lions for food. Hyenas and lions cover the same ground, hunt the same prey, and scavenge the same remains of animals. Consequently they steal food from each other, chase each other, and even kill each other's young.



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