By Taniya Dutta
These breathtaking images show a lion pride taking a drink from a pond together at night.
Varun Aditya, 25, captured the stunning images without a flash or specialist lighting equipment in the Zimanga Private Game reserve in South Africa.
The young photographer from India stayed for three nights in a hide to patiently wait for the pride of lions that consisted of one large male lion, five lionesses and two cubs, to obtain the once-in-a-lifetime images.
Varun was only four metres away from the massive cats as they stared straight in his direction.
Varun said: “It was the most amazing experience of my life.
“I had seen lions before while on safaris but this was the first time I saw a lion from this close.
“It is then that I realised how massive a lion is.
“They were beautiful. I felt very lucky to have seen them from this close proximity.”
Varun, who also takes photography tours, said he tracked the pug marks of the wild cats and waited inside a 15 by 17 ft pitch dark hide for 36 hours before he witnessed the impressive moment.
Using only LED lights so to not disturb the animals, he managed to capture the intensity of the piercing stare of the lionesses with their luminous yellow-green eyes.
Varun said: “It was pitch dark inside the hide and I was completely hidden behind a glass wall.
“I didn’t use a flash light and only took the images using two warm LED lights.
“I wasn’t scared a bit as the animals couldn’t see me.
“Also, as humans we are scared of the wild animals but their natural instinct is to only attack when they sense fear. Either they will do that or run away.
“Here, I was hidden and so I could take these pictures without disturbing them.”
Zimanga Private Game Reserve lies in the heart of the Zululand bushveld and is close to the town of Mkuze.
The reserve has a huge diversity of wildlife including more than 80 species of mammals such as cheetah, leopards, elephant, rhinos and buffalo.
Varun believes there could be more than 35 lions in the reserve as each pride consists of five to six lions and lionesses.