Gir pride: 18 lions in a single frame | Watch
According to forest department officials, this may be the largest number of Gir lions caught in a single frame.
Two prides of lions, consisting of 18 Asiatic Lions, were photographed by wildlife photographer Preeti Pandya in the Dedakadi area of Gujarat’s Gir forest on June 5. The rare occurrence, regarded as a record of sorts by wildlife experts, is believed to be one of the first instances where such a large number of wild lions have been captured in a single frame at Gir National Park.
The making of the rare photograph
Preeti Pandya clicked the photo on June 5, which is incidentally World Environment Day. She and her husband, wildlife photographer and conservationist, Bhushan Pandya said they started the day by sighting two lions and two lionesses at different locations in Gir’s Raidi area. Later, they drove to Dedakadi, where they saw tourists near a water hole observing a pride of two adult lionesses and five cubs. When the group of tourists left, the couple stayed behind. The lionesses got up walked in their direction, and settled in an open area in front of a hill. A team of trackers had told the Pandyas earlier in the day about another pride of four lionesses and nine cubs that was nearby, but the two prides had so far stayed away from each other. “Suddenly, the larger pride emerged from the bushes and joined the smaller one... They were 20 in total, but two of them had moved out of frame,” said Preeti Pandya. “The moment was truly heavenly.”
A feat that puts her in an elite club
According to forest department officials, this may be the largest number of Gir lions caught in a single frame. In 1971, Suleman Patel’s black-and-white photograph of nine lions in a single frame created international buzz. Then, in 1999, Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer BP Pati clicked a photograph of 11 wild cats on a colour film, and later that year, Bhushan Pandya captured 13 lions of the same family. In December 2011, forest officer Sandeep Kumar took a picture with 14 lions, and in 2016 forest service officers T Karuppasamy and Sakkira Begum photographed a pride of 16 lions.