In 2012, Atif Saeed, a 38-year-old nature photographer from Lahore, Pakistan, was driving through a safari zoo park near his home town, when he saw a male lion in the distance. Saeed got out of his jeep with his Nikon D4 and a telephoto lens, and started creeping towards the beautiful, but deadly lion, with only the thought that he needed to capture a photograph of the lion in his natural habitat.
“I was thinking – I must show the character and status of lion and this was the only way I could think of to achieve this”
What Atif didn’t anticipate, however, was the sound of his camera’s shutter warning the lion of his presence. Once the beast was close enough to fill Saeed’s frame, he began snapping off pictures. The clicking sound caused the lion’s attention the be drawn to the photographer, who was a mere 10 feet away.
“I was sitting in front of him just near my car and the door of my car was open. I was sat on ground few feet away, so he was treating me like his prey.”
Saeed retreated as fast as he could to the safety of his jeep, where he quickly closed and locked the door, and pondered for a moment about what had just happened, though perhaps it was the adrenaline coursing through his body that made him laugh about it initially. It didn’t hit him until much later how close he had come to becoming a light snack for the king of the jungle.
“‘The story finished in few seconds as the lion aggressively jumped towards me and I just about scrambled into my car. I was laughing at that time, but now when I think back about the incident I don’t think I would be able to do it again. It was a pretty close encounter”
From the sight of the haunting photos, “pretty close encounter” is the understatement of the year. Atif Saeed and his confrontation with the hungry lion is the terrifying reality of what can happen when an artist risks his life for his art. For more stunning photographs from Saeed, his Facebook and Flickr are filled with them.
Kudos to Mr. Saeed. The closest most people want to get to a hungry, charging lion is watching Mufasa fight Scar from the comfort of their living rooms.
[Photo Credits: The Daily Mail Via Atif Saeed]