Caters News | Leighton Lum

Oldest Known Lion In Kenyan National Park Stuns In Haunting Photos

After years of stories like The Lion King and their general perception as the kings of the jungle, a lot of us have developed a complicated image of lions.

On one hand, we recognize them as ferocious creatures who we figure come by that "king" reputation honestly, which makes us as drawn to them as we are nervous about approaching them.

But at the same time, lions can be cute just like so many other animals can. So when we have reason to believe that one of them isn't about to eat us, we can find them easy to admire and to see as just a big kitty.

And as one photographer's vibrant shots illustrate, those big cats can cut a pretty haunting figure when they get old enough.

Back in August, a Hawaii-based photographer named Leighton Lum visited the Maasai Mara national reserve in Kenya

Caters News | Leighton Lum

And while The Daily Mail reported that this place is also home to zebras, cheetahs and other lions, he was most excited to see 14-year-old Morani here.

That's because Morani became the oldest known lion in the park once his brother Scarface passed away earlier this year.

And from the sounds of things, Lum was struck by the haunting look on Morani's face as soon as he saw him.

Caters News | Leighton Lum

In Lum's words, "Just by looking at his face, you can tell this guy has been through a lot. He went from a young stud leader of a pride, a king, to a retired old man who still fights for survival in the Mara."

Although he was once part of a group of four lions, it seems that Morani is now old enough to have outlived them all.

But that's not the only reason why it was so easy for Lum to get all these pictures of Morani on his own.

Caters News | Leighton Lum

The truth of the matter is that this is because Morani has been alone for a long time by now.

As Lum explained it, "He is a lone male who has been pushed out of the pride by younger, stronger males which is a natural process in lions as the strongest males will control the pride."

And we can probably get a good sense of why that keeps happening from how Morani spends his days.

Caters News | Leighton Lum

Apparently, it's not uncommon for lions his age to sleep up to 20 hours a day and he's often slow to get up and sit down.

As Lum put it, "We spotted him in the morning, then went back at the very end of the day only to find him no more than 15ft from where we left him."

Nonetheless, Morani is clearly a beautiful and majestic creature, if a sleepy one.

h/t: The Daily Mail