Posted in Lions, Nature, Photography, Travel

Your Daily Elephant is a Female Lion

Although the media world’s attention has been focused on the trophy hunt of Cecil in Zimbabwe, there hasn’t been much attention paid to the dwindling number of lions in the wild – the lions isolated in the pockets of national parks and game reserves.  One could argue that those bits of the wild also function as natural zoos, since they are usually far apart.  What a dwindling population does mean is that the 20,000 lions left in the wild are also genetically isolated, splintered into populations that do not have contact with each other.  Each breeding lion removed from such populations reduces their genetic fingerprint further.  There are 8 subspecies of lions.  I have seen three.  The lifespan of a lion is 10-14 years in the wild.  All the lions in my photos, except for the ones I’ll post last, are dead, hopefully of natural causes, since they were all observed in game reserves.  But, as the story of Cecil illustrates, lions are not easily lured out of their protected areas.

A female in the flowers, subspecies Masai or E. African lion, photographed in Samburu Game Reserve, Kenya, 2002.

photograph by Cheryl Merrill
photograph by Cheryl Merrill


Cheryl Merrill’s essays have been published in Fourth Genre, Pilgrimage, Brevity, Seems, South Loop Review, Ghoti, Alaska Quarterly Review, Adventum and Isotope. “Singing Like Yma Sumac” was selected for the Best of Brevity 2005 and Creative Nonfiction #27. It was also included in the anthology Short Takes: Model Essays for Composition, 10th Edition. Another essay, “Trunk,” was chosen for Special Mention in Pushcart 2008. She is currently working on a book about elephants: Larger than Life: Living in the Shadows of Elephants.

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