The oldest lion in Masai Mara, 14-year-old Scarface, known for a scar across his eye and loved and discussed passionately by wildlife enthusiasts and big cat nerds from all over the world, breathed his last on June 11.
The lion accorded an unofficial but undisputed legendary status by experts and enthusiasts alike held territory of 400 sq km.
In social media posts over the weekend, conservationists said, Scarface died peacefully on Friday afternoon.
Scarface is reported by the World Heritage Species to have died of natural causes.
“We are heartbroken to announce that the legendary ‘Scarface’ passed away today of natural causes in his beloved Mara home,” a social media statement by the group reads.
According to images shared online and news reports, the lion had grown underweight and sickly in the period leading up to his death.
Out of the estimated 850 to 900 lions in the reserve, the sight of Scarface completed the tourists’ expedition.
The lifespan of a lion in the wild ranges between 10 and 14 years but, even with several injuries over the years, Scarface is believed to be slightly over 14 years old.
His endurance and distinct, ‘scarred’ visage lent a charisma and sense of intrigue to his cult—so much so that it led to widespread documentation and coverage of his life and times.
The wound on his eye opened several times but timely vet intervention prevented infection. Scarface was also struck by a Maasai warrior’s spear, in an act of self-defence by the latter, who was protecting his cattle.
He was among a pride of lions in 2016 dubbed ‘the four musketeers’ who took over the paradise pride comprising nine females with cubs and a few young males.
Scarface and its brothers dominated the Malaika and Ashnil camp territories along the Mara River.
Despite sleeping for long hours during the day, he was often seen with his brothers Sikio and Morani. Their other brother Hunter died three years ago.
With its death, the Mara has lost yet another iconic lion. Many people have taken to social media after the death of the lion.
Here is what nature lovers had to say about the king of Mara.
— 💞Ale Zapata💞 Warriors4Wildlife™_SA🌐Ⓥ🐾 (@AleZ2016) June 11, 2021
(image credit: Susan Portnoy) pic.twitter.com/l57jPP8FzG
— WHS – World Heritage Species (@WhsSpecies) June 11, 2021
This lion named Scarface took his last breath today at 14 years old. One of 4 nomadic lions who banded together to oust previous alphas and take over an entire pride in the Mara. There’s a dope documentary series that feature them called “Big Cat Diary”. Long live the King 👑 pic.twitter.com/uyjcz6WVKe
— DeShawn (@FrmTh6x) June 11, 2021
— Bαssem (@bassemayousseff) June 13, 2021
Thank you everyone for your love for Scarface, the King and Legend of Masai Mara. #Icon
The Mara Predator Conservation Programme confirmed earlier today that Scarface will be taken somewhere out sight and left alone, so he can be part of the natural circle of life.
— LION LOVERS (@LIONLOVERS5) June 11, 2021
Rest in POWER, Scarface, King of the Mara…He joined the ANCESTOR alone, completely undisturbed by hyenas even after death…we believe he was protekted by DIVINE energy…incredible! pic.twitter.com/jLqNnQyjxk
— Classic Age Vitalist (@CVitalist) June 11, 2021
The king is dead, long live the king!
With great sadness we announce the loss of Maasai Mara’s Scarface. The king passed on Friday and it was decided to have him buried on Saturday.
As nature dictates, when one king dies, another one ascends the throne.#scarface pic.twitter.com/lzyZ5mg5V0
— Tree Hill Travel (@TreeHillTravel) June 13, 2021