While most male lions stay king for two or three years, Scarface stayed king of his pride for far longer.
No longer will Scarface—the legendary king and oldest member of his pride—be seen walking through the Maasai Mara reserve in Kenya. For several years, Scarface left conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts in awe of his commanding aura and exceptional mane. But what was most iconic about the lion was the scar that pierced through his right eye and was proof of the kind of wild battles he has lived through.
At the age of 14, Scarface passed away of natural causes after staying the supreme king of his pride for far longer than other lions usually do. Typically, male lions only spend two or three years as the king of their pride before being killed off in battles with enemies or succumbing to injuries. However, Scarface survived 14 years of life in the wild and stayed king despite suffering a number of injuries over the years.
🦁 Rest In Power King Scar— Mtembezi Guide ™ (@MtembeziGuide) June 12, 2021
His name was Scarface, owing to a scar in one of his eye, and he was the most sought-after lion in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Yesterday at 1pm Kenya time, Scar breathed his last. #Mtembezi pic.twitter.com/qY75rSrJ3h
Scarface was only 4 years old when he joined his three other brothers in a territory raid in 2012. That day, he walked away from the attack with a wound that eventually turned into the iconic scar that gave him his name. On another occasion, the ferocious beast was struck by the spear of a Maasai warrior who was protecting his cattle. Even then, Scarface defied the odds and came out alive, according to Mirror.
"He had this exceptionally big mane, which apparently makes lions more attractive to females. He was quite unique and stayed at the top so long with this crazy appearance and big personality. I would say he was the most famous lion in the world," Scottish wildlife photographer, George Logan told The Guardian. After years of living as a champion in Mara, Scarface started becoming weak in the final days that led up to his death on June 11.
"Lions are lucky to get to 15. For the previous week, we’d been receiving messages, photos, and videos from Kenya, showing Scar obviously struggling and nearing the end," Logan said. "It’s quite rare for a wild lion to die peacefully and of natural causes, but thankfully and fittingly, this is what has happened for Scar. He lived wild and free right to the end, in the land of his birth."
A testament to the sheer strength and might he is known for, Scarface commanded respect even during the final days of his life.
A Tribute to #Scarface The King ~ #MaasaiMara’s Most Iconic #Lion.— PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE (@Protect_Wldlife) June 15, 2021
14-year-old Scarface, known for a scar across his eye and loved & discussed passionately by wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world, breathed his last on June 11.
🎥 Fight or Flight. pic.twitter.com/yfsleLT17R
"Even near the end, he defied logic by dragging himself 25km back in the direction of his original territory, near to where he was born. We feared the worst when we saw him in close proximity to the Salas males [lions], a trio of the most ferocious young males in the Mara, but they respectfully let him be, even when he defiantly snarled at them," Logan went on to say.
On June 11, Mara Predator Conservation Programme put up a post on Facebook that said: "At 1 pm local time, Scarface took his last breath. He died in peace without any disturbance from vehicles and hyenas. We were the only vehicle on the scene and by his side, hoping to give him any kind of comfort. The Mara has lost yet another one of its great iconic males. May his legend forever live on."
Conservationists are mourning the death of the legendary creature, dubbed as the world's most famous lion. Michelle O'Brien, who had the unforgettable chance of being in the presence of the majestic beast, recalled seeing the lion face to face, according to the Daily Mail.
"For me, it was love at first sight in February 2014, when I learned of his legendary life. He owned his world," O'Brien said. "October 2019, I was blessed to see him again... older, frail but magnificent. He stood only three feet away from our truck and gave us the 'look'. I will miss you, old friend."
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) adogslifephoto and (R) Monica Garliceanu