Lion's Front Paw, Close-up
Photo Details: Close-up of the front paw of a female lion, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel; Lens: Canon 100-400mm IS zoom; Focal Length: 400mm; Shutter Speed: 1/500; Aperture: f8; ISO: 400
Additional Info: Lions have five toes on the front foot and four on the back foot. The fifth digit on the front foot is on the inside of the leg much higher up (as in pic above) and is known as the dewclaw. This is used for extra grip when holding on to prey.
Those massive pawas also hide a deadly weapon - the strong, razor-sharp claws used for grabbing and holding prey, climbing and traction.
While the claws are often described as rectractable (implying they're normally out or unsheathed), they are actually protractible. This means that at rest the claws are sheathed and only when the animal flexes certain muscles in the foot are the claws forced out.
Here's how the lioness and her fellow pride-member were lying when the photograph was taken:
Photo Details: Adult male lion (Panthera Leo), swimming in the Zambezi River, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia.
Camera: Canon EOS 350D; Lens: Canon 100-400mm IS zoom; Focal Length: 400mm; Shutter Speed: 1/2000; Aperture: F5.6; ISO: 800
Additional Info: We were staying at Mwambashi River Lodge in the Lower Zambezi National Park when we spotted this lion swimming in the vast, crocodile-infested Zambezi River, the fourth largest in Africa. To find out more about this very unusual sighting - and what prompted the big cat to take to the water (fear? hunger? lust?) - please see our detailed account Lion Swims Zambezi
Lioness with an Itch
Photo Details: Lioness (Panthera leo) uses her back paw to relieve an irritating itch behind her ear, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.
After a good scratch - relief, contentment, and a hint of a smile!
Camera: Canon EOS 350D; Lens: Canon 100-400 F5.6 IS zoom; Focal Length: 400mm; Shutter Speed: 1/200; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 800
Lion Cubs at Play
Photo Details: Lion cubs at play, testing their hunting and attack skills, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP); Lens: Canon 70-300 F4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/500; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 400.
Additional Info: When you come accross two or more lion cubs within a pride, it's fascinating watching them at play as they'll often be mimicking adult attack behaviour, stalking and grappling with each other as they instinctively learn and practise how to attack and bring down prey.