This lion cub seems perfectly content to soak up the attention of its aunties as its face was licked clean by the two doting relatives.
Amazing photographs show the three-month old youngster enjoying a prized position during the pride’s early morning grooming session in the Masai Mara in Kenya.
While sitting bolt upright between two relaxed older females the cub was given a thorough wash as the pride bonded shortly after sunrise.
Mark Boyd, the Director of the conservation group Safari Collection Footprint Foundation, took these heartwarming photos at a location known as Sala’s Camp.
He said: ‘I was loving this incredibly special and intimate moment with a family of lions I have known and spent a huge amount of time with for the past seven years.
‘The two adult lionesses are from the Sala’s Pride and the cub is around three months old. We left camp at dawn to try and find this pride of lions before sunrise as we had heard them roaring in the early morning hours nearby. We found them grooming and stretching as the sun came up.’
The pride was photographed just after dawn at a time when the big cats often groom themselves as part of the bonding process
Mark said the future for the little cub looks increasingly pressured as lion populations dwindle in the wild
The lion gave out a raw as it rested with two lionesses just after sunrise. Mark said: ‘There were once millions of lions in the world and their population is now reduced to just 20,000 and rapidly dropping’
The cub seemed perfectly content to allow the older lionesses to lick its face, unlike human children who are less keen on having their faces cleaned by a saliva-moistened tissue
Although lions are common in the Maasai Mara where these photos were taken, this is not the case in most of their former range where they have already disappeared or are clinging on in small, threatened, populations
The lion cub sat bolt upright as it allowed the much more relaxed lionesses to groom its face
Three lion cubs lay together as the photographer enjoyed watching the pride start their morning
The grooming continued for the cubs of the pride as the lions engaged in a bonding session at the break of the day
The cub was well used to the morning routine of the pride as it sat between the two lionesses
The lionesses were on high alert as one appeared to spot the photographer snapping their image
The cub seemed quite content to be groomed as the lionesses each cleaned one side of its face
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