Sharing a shower
Scientists have long thought that the main reason that lions band together is to hunt - that food, essentially, is the evolutionary force behind their social bonds. Recently, though, it has emerged that the close bonds between males are moulded by another pressure: the actions of mutual rivals. C-Boy, a black-maned male lion, and his coalition partner Hildur, once controlled a superior territory in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, but they were deposed by a squad of four males known to researchers as the Killers. Nick came across C-boy and Hildur hunkered down in the rain. Though he had spent many months photographing Serengeti lions, he had spent most of his time with larger prides of females. 'I had never before seen these two senior coalition males together,' he says. They were used to the car that Nick was in, so he was able to use a simple zoom lens and ambient light. The rain isn't as unwelcome as their expressions suggest: when water is scarce, the closely bonded pair lick drops from their own and each other's fur.
Canon EOS-1D X + 70-200mm f2 lens; 1/350 sec at f2.8; ISO 400.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
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Michael 'Nick' Nichols, USA
Nick is a photographic artist and journalist who uses his skills to tell stories about environmental issues and our relationship with wildlife. His career, much of it with National Geographic, spans more than 35 years, and his work has been published in numerous books and magazines. The mass of accolades he has received reflects the international recognition reputation he has earned.