Posted in Africa, Lions, Nature, Photography, Travel

World Lion Day: August 10th

There are only 20,000 lions left in the wild.  Of the eight original species known in the Holocene, the age of man, one is extinct, 2 are critically endangered, and one lives on in captivity only: the Addis Ababa lion.  Of the five remaining species that make up most of their population, I’ve been privileged to observe three:  the Masai lion in Kenya and Tanzania; the Southwest African lion in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia; and the Transvaal lion, found in and around Kruger National Park in South Africa.  I’ll post a photos of them until World Lion Day.

This Masai lion has a wonderful mane, marking him as an older lion.  Male Masai lions have a great range of mane types, from nonexistent to luxurious, from red to black.  A Masai male lion grows up to 9 feet long.  The Ghost and the Darkness, the famous lions who killed 35 railroad workers in 1848 were Tsavo lions, a maneless variation of the Masai lion with a reputation for aggressiveness.

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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