A king is dead – farewell to Scarface, the legendary Mara lion

Posted by Anton Crone on 11 June 2021

At 1pm Kenya time, Scarface took his last breath. He died of natural causes.

Image of Scarface in his last moments by Saito, Mara Predator Conservation Programme

‘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,’ said the Mara Predator Conservation Programme today. He was 14 years old.

Scarface gained status as part of “Four Musketeers” when in 2011, along with three other young males, he invaded the Marsh Pride territory in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Renowned photographer and BBC presenter Jonathan Scott put it this way:

They were nomads, full of swagger and aggression and pumped with testosterone. They were almost impossible to tell apart, except for Scarface, who stood out straight away due to his disfiguring wound. At four years of age, they bore scruffy, blonde-and ginger manes that would, in time, darken and spread. We named them the Four Musketeers – Scarface, Morani, Sikio, and Hunter.”

The rest is the stuff on legend. Many visitors to the Maasai Mara would have met him. My own encounter came in 2013. We came across the Marsh Pride one morning – youngsters, females and two large males, probably twenty in all, were being shoved off a cosy island in the marsh by a herd of elephants. I watched from the open top of a Land Cruiser while the elephants trumpeted their dominance. Out damn’d cats!

The pride would move a few metres, look back then lay down- flatcat at the herd’s feet. The feline scent would waft right up those trunks sending the elephants into a frenzy, a bellowing ‘avertissement’; ‘appel!’; ‘retraite’ and ‘advance!’ And so the great grey behemoths finally shoved the golden cats off of the Marsh. And there he sauntered at the rear of the pride as they slunk off. Scarface.

He looked up at me for a moment. ‘Another day in Africa,’ was the sentiment. Then he moved on.

I loved him instantly.

Anton Crone

 






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