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The mane of the adult male lion, unique among cats, is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the species. It makes the lion appear larger, providing an excellent intimidation display; this aids the lion during confrontations with other lions and with the species’ chief competitor in Africa, the spotted hyena. The presence, absence, color, and size of the mane is associated with genetic precondition, sexual maturity, climate, and testosterone production; the rule of thumb is the darker and fuller the mane, the healthier the lion. Sexual selection of mates by lionesses favors males with the densest, darkest mane.
Moremi Wildlife Reserve, Okavango Delta, Botswana, Africa
Nikon D200, Nikkor 80-400 mm, 1/250 sec at f/ 5.6, ISO 200
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