Kenya's 'Legendary' Scarface Lion Found Dead in Important Conservation Area

A famous lion dubbed "Scarface" has died in one of Africa's most important conservation areas.

Conservationists reported that the 14-year-old lion, named for a scar over his right eye, passed away peacefully on Friday at around 1 p.m. local time in Kenya's Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

"At 1 pm local time, Scarface took his last breath. He died in peace without any disturbance from vehicles and hyenas. We were the only vehicle on the scene and by his side, hoping to give him any kind of comfort," the Mara Predator Conservation Programme posted on Facebook alongside an image of the dead lion.

"The Mara has lost yet another one of its great iconic males. May his legend forever live on," the non-profit said.

The average lifespan of lions in the wild is around 10-15 years, although the animals have been known to live longer in captivity.

While Scarface had suffered several injuries, the lion appeared to be relatively healthy until dying from natural causes, conservationists said.

Scarface was perhaps the most sought-after lion among tourists visiting the reserve, one of the most famous safari destinations in Africa.

Together with the connected Serengeti National Park, which lies just across the border in Tanzania, the Maasai Mara forms one of Africa's most spectacular ecosystems—home to nearly 100 mammal species and nearly 600 known bird species.

The park is world-renowned for its spectacular lion, African leopard, cheetah and African bush elephant populations. It is also home to black and white rhinos, while also hosting the Great Migration.

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This annual event involves millions of animals, including wildebeest, zebra, antelopes and other herd animals migrating from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara.

It is estimated that there are around 850 to 900 lions living in the Maasai Mara reserve and the surrounding conservancies.

Tributes to Scarface poured in on social media, as news of his death emerged.

"We are heartbroken to announce that the legendary 'Scarface' passed away today of natural causes in his beloved Mara home," World Heritage Species posted on its Twitter account.

Scarface was part of a group of lions dubbed "the four musketeers" that took control of the Marsh Pride territory in the reserve and were featured in a BBC documentary series.

BBC presenter Jonathan Scott described the group as "nomads, full of swagger and aggression and pumped with testosterone. They were almost impossible to tell apart, except for Scarface, who stood out straight away due to his disfiguring wound."

Scarface the lion
The lion known as "Scarface" in Kenya's Maasai Mara Game Reserve. iStock