When we received the bio photo from Ms. Mylonas, there was a concern regarding the background of this particular visual image. At the time, I inquired, “Can you explain to me the background on the photo with you and the lion. Due to recent [viral, worldwide, adverse reaction to] photos of hunters with hunted and killed wild animals, I would like to add a…context [for readers] to view the photo.”
Christina Mylonas replied, “The photo was taken in Zimbabwe at Lion Encounters. They raise lion cubs and teach them to walk with people. The money goes to support reserves around Zimbabwe. The lions are released into the reserves when they get to be about 2 years. They start to become more aggressive at that age. There was also a sister to the lion in the photo. They were 18 months and had already killed a couple of warthogs. According to the guide, they tried to take down a wildebeest but were too young and inexperienced. Walking with the lions was currently one of the highlights of my life.
I’ve attached a poem (and the story behind it) depicting another experience at Etosha National Park in Namibia. It truly did feel like the beginning of time….”
P.S. Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe just prior to my trip.
An oasis of white haze ripples over the pan.
Lone jackal dares to cross.
The bush sleeps by day.
At night, Earth is covered in a blanket of black.
Time to wake the hunters.
Eyes peer into the darkness,
Alert to the leopard’s stealth.
Rainy season clouds the sky.
Stars cannot compete with lighting flashes across the horizon.
Night turns to day for the pulse of a heartbeat.
Watering holes come alive with the music of frog song.
Lions roar their approval.
Hyenas think it’s all hysterical.
White rhino emerges to survey his kingdom.
This is what creation was like.
To drive along the vast pan of Etosha National Park in Northwest Namibia is to understand our insignificance in the world. Etosha can be overwhelming with its wide open spaces, and the constant threat of danger, but at the same time it is a place of serenity and oneness with the Earth.
I had the opportunity to visit the park with an artist friend. Tara, like many artists, has a way of seeing the world a little differently than us mere mortals. The Namutoni Lodge offers morning, afternoon, and night tours. The highlight of our morning tour was seeing a pride of thirteen lions lounging around a watering hole. A terrifying moment for Tara when one of the females decided to stroll in our direction – the vehicle we were in was not enclosed. I was too busy snapping pictures.
Night is when the animals come alive. How our tour guide could see any of the activity going on around us, I have no idea. Without him, we would have never spotted the hunting leopard in full sprint after a springbok. We made our way to one of the larger watering holes, parked and let the world unfold around us.
It was rainy season and the sky threatened to burst at any minute. We could not see any stars beyond the cloud cover, but flashes of lighting streaked across the sky causing the clouds to glow. Ozone mixed with the smells of dung and sun-baked sand. A chorus of frogs filled the space with music. At first, I could not hear anything else. As we sat listening and watching, other voices joined in. To our right came the roar of lions, behind us the laughter of hyena. It was impossible to tell how close or how far the sounds traveled. As if on cue, across the watering hole, emerged a white rhino. He stood like a god watching over his subjects.
We were silent in the midst of all the chaos. Then Tara spoke, very calmly and matter-of-factly, “This is what creation was like.”
Click on the image below to view exhibit
C. Evans Mylonas was a volunteer working in Namibia on the continent of Africa. The country’s unique landscape and culture is often reflected in her visual images. She was a 2015 winner of the Skeleton Coast Post photo contest, and her work has been seen in Assisi Journal of Arts & Letters and Skipping Stones Magazine. Currently, she resides in Arizona.
Intrigued by this photo? See Christina’s gallery exhibition for further artist information to put this photo in proper perspective.