When all five females of the Vumbi pride in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park came into oestrus together, six weeks of almost non-stop mating followed. This ensures a pride’s cubs are born at the same time. The young will be cared for communally, growing up at the same rate, feeding on kills at the same time and socialising together. But for the pride’s two resident males, Hildur and C-Boy, the almost continuous mating was exhausting. ‘It was fierce – every seven minutes or so. The females get really twitchy – they don’t want to do anything else,’ Nick says. Here C-Boy rests for a moment, though the female is soliciting another mating. Although there was plenty of light, Nick had already set up his infrared camera. He had planned to photograph the consorting pair into the night, not wanting to disturb them by using a normal flash. To position the camera at their level, he mounted it on a radio-controlled robot with tank tracks. By shooting in black-and-white to strip out detail, he was able to convey the intimacy of the moment.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 24mm f8 lens; 1/180 sec at f8; ISO 200; radio-controlled robot.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
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.