Bob Junior, a beloved lion dubbed “king of the Serengeti” for his majestic appearance, has been killed by a trio of younger rivals in a battle for dominance.
Bob Junior, named so because he was the son of a lion called Bob Marley, was mauled to death Saturday. He was said to have been about 10 years old.
The celebrated predator reportedly did not put up a fight and was worn down by his assailants.
“They wanted to overthrow Bob Junior,” Serengeti conservation officer Fredy Shirima told the BBC, referring to Bob Junior’s foes.
“These incidents normally happen when the head of a pride becomes old or sometimes when the other male lions are not happy with his control over a large territory,” Shirima explained.
The fearsome jungle cat, who also went by the name Snygvee, had ruled his pride in northern Tanzania for about seven years along with his brother, Tryggve.
Tryggve was believed to have been killed as well in a separate attack.
Tour operators and visitors to the Serengeti have taken to social media to post heartfelt tributes to Bob Junior, describing the famously photogenic animal as “one of Africa’s most iconic lions.”
“Many have travelled long distances to catch a glimpse of the legendary lion with a distinctive and luxuriant black mane – King of the Serengeti (Snyggve) Bob Jr,” Asilia Africa, a safari travel company, wrote in an Instagram post.
The celebrated lion will be laid to rest during a special burial ceremony organized by wildlife officials in Tanzania.
Serengeti National Park, a popular tourist destination that covers an area of 12,000 square miles between northern Tanzania and Kenya, is home to about 3,000 lions split into some 300 prides.
A male lion’s average lifespan in the wild is about 8 to 12 years, while females live between 10 to 15 years. Lions kept in captivity live to an average age of 25 years, according to National Geographic.