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    Posted June 10, 2014 by
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    Hondo my Warrior


    I traveled to Sabi Sand - Mpumalanga, South Africa in 2012. While on safari, enjoying leopard, elephant, wild dog, hyena and so much more, my passion had always been predator photography.


    At the end of a day, near sunset, I had the joy of watching a gorgeous lion sitting on the edge of the Sand River in Sabi Sand, taking in the last rays of the sun. He had a bad left left which the Rangers informed me had been injured by a buffalo kick. He had traveled over from Kruger National Park into the Sabi Sand area and was hunting alone, his brother somewhere else out in the bush.


    In private vehicle, I was lucky enough to have the luxury to spend all the time I wanted with Hondo (meaning warrior). He eventually slid down the embankment out onto the sandbar and crossed the river heading back to Kruger. It was seeing his struggle with his rear leg that broke my heart and moved me to tears. It was the realization of the brutality and extreme struggle of EVERY day in the bush. You are either predator or prey.


    Those words came back to haunt me in July. I had been there in May and was hoping to return later that year to see MY lion, my warrior. I was informed by the Rangers that Hondo had been killed in Kruger by either another pride or a pack of hyenas.


    I want anyone reading this story to know Hondo lived and died a warrior. He was NOT just another lion on another safari with tourists clicking away with their cameras. This image honors his power, struggle and freedom. He had come out of the bush and sauntered right up to my vehicle. I was within a foot of his massive head. That contact made the connection I felt that day and thereafter.


    If you must safari, respect wildlife. Don't leave a footprint. Give wildlife their distance, honor and respect. Remember how violent life in the bush is. Those images you take? It could be that animal's last day, last breath, last hunt, last flight. Use your photography to honor and memorialize. It's the least you can do.

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