An Indomitable Soul – A Lion Named Scar


I have always taken umbrage to the naming of individual wild animals, I feel that it puts emphasis on certain creatures and in many regards, anthropomorphizes them. However, history has taught us that there will always be those beings that transcend our imagination into a realm reserved for the gods… and those beings, those majestic creatures that completely capture our hearts and minds, deserve to be named. There was Elsa, the incredible lioness who defied all the odds in the quest for her freedom, or Machli, the famous crocodile killing tigress who ruled the jungles of India, then there is Deep Blue, the largest great white shark ever recorded, and let’s not forget Tim ,the magnificent elephant tusker who has stakes his claim as one of the most magnificent creatures to have ever walked this planet. These are just some of the incredible creatures that have transcended belief into an almost fable like existence. However, there is one majestic being that may very well surpass all before him. He rules the great wilds of the most famous wilderness in the world, the Mara, and he simply goes by the name… SCAR.


SCAR, a lion whose story is perhaps even more remarkable than the beautiful way he carries himself. There’s no denying it, Scar is one incredibly beautiful lion, every one of his striking features, from his war-torn disfigured eye, to his perfectly placed widows peak atop his mane, simply add to his presence and character. However, it is perhaps the story of this incredible lion that has forever etched his name in the history books of great beings to have walked this great planet. No one truly knows how this incredible lion got the famous scar above his eye, some say it was from a spear while others say it was from a battle with rival lions… I think this mystery just adds even more mystic to the tale of this incredible lion. Scar also survived a near fatal injury when he was speared by a Maasai herdsman. The tribes that live on the fringes of the Maasai Mara continue to come into conflict with wild animals as they encroach on land designated to wildlife. They do this in order to illegally graze cattle. This conflict between farmers and wildlife is a leading factor in the decline of wildlife across this great continent. This great lion is evidence of that very conflict. However, through all of this, he lives on. Even now in his golden years, this incredible lion is still an undeniable force, here in the great wilderness he calls home, where he rules supreme with his three brothers, Morani, Hunter and Skio, known collectively as the Four Musketeers. A coalition of males famously part of the Marsh and Paradise prides. The fact that Scar has managed to defy the odds stacked against him is also a testament to the bond shared between these four brothers. 


Last year, I was fortunate enough to spend but a few moments with this incredible lion, and to say the least, it was transcendent… perhaps even magical at times. To me, this flawlessly scarred lion defined everything beautiful about the great continent that I myself call home… He embodies hope and survival, he epitomizes what it means to defy the odds, he symbolizes everything its means to be a son of Africa… I did not get the opportunity to get the perfect portrait of this beautiful boy, one that did him justice, and I don’t know if I ever will, but that doesn’t matter, because I feel that I came away with something even more special. I got the chance to share a moment with a living legend, a great king, and those few moments, although fleeting, will live with me forever. For even in those few moments, with the sun fast disappearing beyond the Mara’s infinite horizon, this stoic legend was teaching me an important lesson. He reminded me that time out in nature’s great spaces in the company of its greatest beings, was more about the moment, it was about feeling the energy in the air, succumbing to it, letting it embrace you.


Africa is a truly magical place, her wild spaces are more enchanting than anything you could ever imagine, she intoxicates you and forever changes you. It takes only a few moments in the company of incredible creatures like Scar, for you to quickly realize where her majesty stems from, what lets her effortlessly steal your heart… it’s the incredible beings that call her dusty horizons home. 

I find it poetic, that this, perhaps the most famous lion to ever walk the great plains of the dark continent, rules over the greatest wilderness to be found on our planet… the Maasai Mara. This indomitable lion, this great son of Africa has weathered every storm, and conquered every adversity that life has thrown at him. Perhaps it is now, in his final act, that he is at his most beautiful, because this old boy, beautifully torn and tattered, sculptured by Africa herself, represents that which is most beautiful… freedom. See, the truth is that all of our planets incredible wild spaces are under constant threat in this ever-shrinking world, and the great beings that call that her home have to overcome insurmountable odds to survive. So, it is our responsibility, as both the antagonist as well as the ally of this lonely planet of ours, to do everything we can to preserve these last wild spaces, so that majestic creatures just like Scar are given a chance to live their lives, wild and free, and captivate us for generations.

If I could talk to this majestic lion, as he plays out his encore, I would tell him, “Life was a series of storms my old friend. There were times of turmoil and then there were moments of when you basked in the warmth of the sun. You remained unfazed even when the storm loomed on the horizon, for yours was an indomitable soul, an unconquerable spirit. Those tumultuous skies remain undaunting, for the spirit that lives within you is wild and free. Each of your scars tell a tale, not of hardship but of triumph, for you have faced life’s many storms and risen like the phoenix that you are, a sentient being but a warrior nonetheless. You are bruised but not battered, you are weathered but not worn. Walk steadfast old friend with your head held high, regal in your gait, imperial in your stature, for no matter what the gauntlet of life may hold, remember that yours was a life of freedom, wild, untamed, and thus infinitely beautiful… May your light forever shine bright, may your spirit always be here to show us how beautiful our world is, so that we too may weather our own storms, knowing that we share this home with incredible souls like yours.”

Although his spirit remains unconquerable, Scar is an old fellow now, and who knows when he may breathe his last. However, one thing is for certain, with that last breath, this beautiful son of Africa will cross the divide into realm of immortality and his spirit will forever live amongst the golden fields of his great kingdom. 

Faizel Ismail