A Year
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World Lion Day

World Lion Day

August 10 is World Lion Day. I devoted that day to a different topic: but today, six days later, I will honor the lion.


I have seen lions in their magnificence in Africa. I have seen four cubs playing about their watchful mother. I have seen lions hunt and bring down their prey. I have seen a pair of them making love—which they do three days without stopping; they took no notice of the many voyeuristic humans crowded around them in our dozen land rovers.


Lions are glorious beasts: darling as babies; regal as adults. On this planet rich in proud and fierce species, to call the lion "King" is no small thing: but when you see them hunt on the plains of Africa, and, later, after sundown, when you hear them roar—King fits them.


This year, for the first time, conservationists around the world have joined together to call for the lion to be placed on the list of most endangered species. Here"s why:

  • Of Asiatic lions: in India, 523 are left.
  • Of African lions, which numbered 200,000 thirty years ago, only 15,000 to 32,000 are left.
  • Only 34 lions are left in Nigeria.
  • Only 40 lions are left in Senegal.
  • The lion is extinct in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Togo.
  • Just 645 wild lions remain in west and central Africa.
  • There are no lions in 25 African countries, and they are only just surviving in ten.
  • Pro-hunting lobbies around the world vigorously oppose any effort to save the lion, as that would mean curtailing hunting.


These kings and queens that have walked amongst us—we could lose them, and soon. But we bothersome, inquisitive humans can also save them. 


Let us be about it.


Of the many reasons that I revere science fiction, the literature I have devoted most of my life to, one is this: it teaches, again and again, that each life can make a difference for good. I believe this to be true. Those of you who read these words—do something to save the lion. Here is a list of suggestions:

  • Change your profile photo on your various online accounts to that of a lion, at least for a day, and talk about saving them.
  • Link to and donate to one or more of the notable organizations dedicated to saving the lion, including:

The National Geographic Big Cats Initiative

World Lion Day

Born Free - USA


  • Check out many other worthy organizations, all listed on the World Lion Day website (and including organizations in Africa):

World Lion Day Associates


If enough of us do just one small thing, the difference for good could be staggering. What we do today, or fail to do, shapes the world to come. My hope is that we travel together into the future, lions and humans: and that we humans do not go there alone.



Selected Composition:


Mbube (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)



Program Notes


Solomon Linda (1909 - 62) wrote this song in South Africa in 1939. It spread across the continent, and, indeed, the world. It has become everything from a jazz staple to a lullaby. Here is a link to Gordon Harvey's fascinating article about the history of this song, printed in The Playground: The Simply Music Blog (6 February 2015):

Story of a Song—The Lion Sleeps Tonight


Here is a link to a gorgeous version of this song by Miriam Makeba (1932 - 2008), who is considered the first artist to popularize African music outside Africa (from the 2002 album Rarity Music Pop, vol. 175: Miriam Makeba):

Miriam Makeba, "Mbube"


And here is a link to this song sung as a lullaby, by those heroes of the struggle against apartheid, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (from their 1994 album Gift of the Tortoise: A Musical Journey through Southern Africa):

Mbube (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)





I photographed, "My Soul Is Among Lions," the photo above, in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania (August 1996). The title is from Psalms 57:4 (KJV): "My soul is among lions."








Afternoon of a Faun

Afternoon of a Faun

Beautiful World

Beautiful World