,

In Honour of Cecil the Lion: My Top 10 World Lion Day Photos

Every year the I pays homage to my favourite animal, the African Lion.  A fews year ago I had the distinct honour of  working/volunteering amongst the Dambwa Pride, a young pride of lions protected by the African Lion Environmental Research Trust (A.L.E.R.T). It was a truly surreal experience. My day-to-day was anything but usual. Tracking the dwindling Wild Dog population, learning about the migratory patterns of the African Elephant, and frolicking on the savannah with playful cubs in the hot afternoon, African sun were all in a day’s work. This year’s day of commemoration is shrouded in sadness as we mourn the loss of one of Africa’s most beloved lions, Cecil the Lion.

Cecil was well known amidst African tour operators, and on a visit to Victoria Falls, I overheard a group of over-landers chatting excitedly about their photos of the famed male. Cecil the Lion was cruelly lured out of a protected conservation area, shot with an arrow belonging to American big game recreational hunter Walter Palmer. Hwange National Park’s most famous lion succumbed to his injuries some 40 hours later.

Zambia-861-1

As a proud supporter of Lion Conservation efforts in Africa and around the world, we mourn along with the global community. Since 1975, the African Lion population has dwindled by an estimated 85% – Africa needs lions. Productive and successful males like Cecil are the keystone to flourishing African Lion prides. In honour of Cecil the Lion, and those who have fallen to human hands before him, we celebrate successful lion programs like ALERT.  Here’s our Top 10 World Lion Day photos to celebrate the strength and mystique of the African Lion.

1) The Three Sisters

Zambia-515-1

Kela, Loma & Kwandi

Kela, Kwandi and Loma (known as 2KL) were my favourite grouping to study and walk with. Despite her formidable size, Kela was an unusually affectionate cub and greeted every volunteer much like a small domestic cat would greet its owner. Her easy going nature made it easy to forget that she was also an effective buffalo hunter! Today she is the mother of several cubs and plays an important support role to the Dambwa Pride.

2) Temi & Tswana 

Temi & Tswana

Temi and Tswana were significantly smaller than their older brothers and sisters. At 12 months, they spent much of their days lazing about, snuggling with eachother and ankle-tapping eachother across the savannah.

3) Beautiful Leya 

Leya

Leya

Leya, in my opinion, was the most beautiful of all the lionesses. She moved with effortless grace, and despite my admiration, she always moved about me with trepidation and suspicion, an instinct that serves her well in her semi-wild surroundings today.

4) The Scaredy Cat 


Zambia-861-1Fourteen month old Zulu was afraid of his own shadow. It was nearly five weeks before he allowed me to crouch down beside him. Today he is a beautiful, strong fierce protector of his pride.

5) The Man-Eater

Kwandi

Kwandi

Kwandi was undoubtedly one of the most mischievous of the Damba pride. But to clarify, no humans were harmed in the making of this photo (Gulp!)

6) Playtime with the Three Sisters

Zambia-437-1

Kela, Kwandi & Loma

Domestic cats may hate the water, Kela, Kwandi and Loma LOVED it! So much so, you had to keep back twenty paces or so just in case you got caught up in some African lion mayhem.

7) When the Mercury Rises

Zambia-322-1
October in southern Africa is often referred to as “suicide month.” When temperatures spike to the mid-40’s (yep, I’m talking celsius), the cubs were listless. However, Leya, pictured above, always seemed unphased. Don’t worry, she’s just yawning, though one can never be too careful with a wild spirit like Leya’s.

8) Camera for LunchZambia-730-1

As the smallest member of all the lion workers, I had to be especially diligent. Rule number one when working with lions, never turn your back! 

9) Honorary Mother Lioness
  Zambia-1224

Spending as much time as I did with these cubs, I couldn’t help but feel like a mother of sorts. On the lazy days when the cubs were extra lazy, we conducted careful examinations, looking for abrasions, insect reactions or signs of disease.

10) We are Not Trophies

Zambia-166-1

Temi

The desire to destroy these magnificent animals only to display their carcass for show escapes me. I will simply say this; “Do not try to fight a lion if you are not one yourself.”

Save the African Lion.

 

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.