MARA SIMBA: The African Lion by Roger Caras
Kirkus Star

MARA SIMBA: The African Lion

Email this review


In this, Caras' 50th-odd book, the prolific nature writer vividly tells the life story of Mara Simba, an African lion. Much of Mara Simba's believability comes by virtue of its biological accuracy and the fact that all of the events described are based on actual happenings, either personally observed by Caras or told to him over the years during his 25 extended visits to the splendorous Maasai Mars region. We follow Mars Simba--the only surviving cub of a litter of four--through birth in the Kenya savannah, early life within a pride, exile, prime, infirmity, and death. Cast out of his pride at adolescence (as all male lions are), Mara Simba tends for himself with difficulty, until he meets and teams up with another lone lion, Ol-Kurrukur. There are numerous dramatic high-points as the two lions survive together--taking down their first zebra, escaping pursuit from spear-toting Maasai herdsmen, and, later, claiming their own pride and settling down for long years of relative comfort and dominance. Their old age, separation, and demise are a moving finale to a book that strives to keep a careful balance between stark realism and romanticism. Throughout, Cants is ever exploring--subtly--the relationship between the hunter and the hunted, and nature's cyclic ways. ""Without quite knowing how,"" says Caras, ""and certainly not why, the animals of the region held everything in balance, and amid violent death there lived a kind of natural harmony."" Thus, this is more than just an engrossing tale about the doings of lions and lion prides--it is a graphic, moving rendering of the life-and-death scenario that has been played out for eons in the African plains. Caras fittingly reminds us in his closing chapter that this cycle will surely end if the lion's natural evolution continues to be disrupted by man.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1985
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston