Meet ‘Scarface’ — The Most Notorious Lion to Ever Rule the Jungle

Scarface the Lion
© viewbug/ via

Written by Jennifer Hollohan

Updated: April 11, 2023

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Anyone who grew up watching The Lion King, or watched it as a parent, has a slight soft spot for lion points of pride. How could you not cheer on Simba after all? Even decades after its release, fans never lost interest in the magnificent animals roaming the African continent. That fascination got fueled by increasingly impressive wildlife footage from organizations like National Geographic. And that footage allowed people around the globe to first “meet” and fall in love with Scarface — the most notorious lion ever to rule the jungle.

The article below explores the life of Scarface, his home, and what other animals may have lived near him.

Meet ‘Scarface’

One well-known lion lived on a reserve in Masai Mara, Kenya, from 2007 to 2021. His name was Scarface (otherwise known as Scar). Scarface got his name after a territorial fight in 2012. Scar’s eye got injured during the dispute (which Scarface won alongside his brothers Morani, Hunter, and Sikio).

Unfortunately, Scarface died on June 11, 2021. Starvation spurred on by his old age led to his death. He was an incredible 14 years old at the time.

Before his death, he was beloved by people around the world. After watching him dominate the reserve on wildlife shows on National Geographic and the BBC’s Big Cats Diary, tourists flocked to Kenya to see him in person. Scarface was so famous that he even had a dedicated Facebook page.

Scarface the lion

Scarface the Lion got his name after a fight for territory in 2012.

©Henk Bogaard/

How Old Do Lions Typically Get?

Lions rule the land. They are apex predators and feared by other animals and people alike. So, they must live for a long time, right? Unfortunately not. Even predators face dangers, including from their own kind. That means a lion’s lifespan is highly unpredictable. However, one thing is certain. Lions in captivity tend to far outlive lions in the wild.

Lions living in the wild also differ in their life span depending on whether we’re talking about males or females. If a lion survives diseases, hunting, poaching, starvation, and battles over territory, it may live between 10 and 14 years old. Females tend to be on the higher end of that scale, with males falling slightly short of the top age. 

And experts estimate that only one out of every eight lion cubs makes it to adulthood. So those that make it to 10, or even 14, years old have already lived an impressive and full life.

Male Lion

If a lion survives into adulthood in the wild, it may live to be anywhere from 10 to 14 years old.

©Jurgens Potgieter/

What Is Masai Mara?

Unless you have researched (or been on) a safari, you may not have heard about Masai Mara. But the Masai Mara National Reserve & Conservancies is well worth the trip, thanks to its never-ending adventures.

The entire area is an unfenced reserve comprised of multiple conservancy areas privately owned and managed by Masai families. It was officially established in 1961 and subsequently expanded in 1974. Currently, Masai Mara spans 583 square miles (1,510 square km). And the entire area is packed to the brim with amazing animals.

What Other Animals Live in Masai Mara?

Scarface lived on a Kenyan reserve in Masai Mara. It is one of the preferred destinations for tourists looking for an authentic safari experience. And, boy, does the reserve reward those who visit it!

In addition to lions, tourists will also see Cape buffalos, leopards, and elephants. And if they are lucky, safari goers might spot a rhinoceros. Additionally, if you time your trip right, you may get the sought-after treat of watching the ‘Great Migration.’ This bi-annual event showcases an amazing sight: the migration of zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles between Masai Mara and the Serengeti.

And that is only a small sampling of the abundant wildlife you can spot while on safari in Masai Mara. The region is home to an impressive 90 mammal species. 

Lucky visitors may catch a glimpse of the fast cheetah, towering giraffe, or enormous hippo. Additionally, some smaller animals may capture rapt attention from visitors. Some species include the vervet monkey, side-striped jackal, olive baboon, bushbaby, and aardvark.

But don’t forget to look up while you are in Masai Mara! The area has over 500 species of birds, 57 of which are raptors. So keep your eyes peeled for a Kori Bustard, Bateleur eagle, and Fischer’s Lovebird.

The Big Five

Cape buffalos are one of the ‘

Big Five’

animals that visitors may spot on a trip to Masai Mara.


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About the Author

Jennifer Hollohan is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. Jennifer has over twenty years of writing experience. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which she earned in 2005, and is a Herbalist. Jennifer lives in Colorado with her family. She loves hiking, admiring wildflowers, gardening, and making herbal tea.

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