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- I have now spent over 250 days in Africa in nine
trips over the past eight years.
- I have spent 180 of those days exclusively in the
- I have sighted over 1220 lions, 215 cheetahs,
and 150 leopards.
- For the last five trips, with the exception of three days, I have
seen at least one leopard daily and as many as five
leopards in one day! they call me the “Leopard Lady,
mama chui in swahili”
- The year 2000 with 30 days on game
drive exclusively in the Serengeti I saw 66 leopards,
(at least one daily), 103 cheetahs, 505 lions,
2 serval cats, 2 genet cats and 2
- I have now traveled from West Africa, Senegal,
Dakar, Cape Verde Islands to Kenya
and Tanzania in East Africa.
- January / February 2004, I have just spent this past five
weeks photographing African culture. Some
amazing sites including food markets, fishing boats with their catch,
native dancers, buildings, people, landscapes, coffee plantations, slave
centers, historical landmarks, secluded gorgeous beaches, cruise ships,
hotels, handicrafts, street vendors, monuments, concentration camps,
remote villages, churches, Mosques, forts, monasteries, forests, publicity
shots, sunrises and sunsets. The first 20 days I did a cruise with Folke
West from Finland on the Kristina
Regina Cruise Line to West Africa traveling from Senegal,
The Gambia and then four Cape Verde Islands with two different groups
of people, all from Finland. We then flew from Senegal West Africa to
Helsinki Finland, picked up a small 10 person group from Finland and
started our 10 day safari in East Africa.
- I have added to my wild animal list three black rhinos,
2 leopards, several lions, and a few cheetahs including
one small baby cheetah, the red colobus monkey and
114 birds. We saw a total of 35 different mammals and
114 different birds in only FOUR days
of game drives. We traveled and stayed at 3 different game parks including
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Serena
Serengeti Lodge, Serena
Lake Manyara Lodge. We then ended our trip in Zanzibar
Zanzibar and then our last night was at Serena
Zanzibar. I shot 41 rolls of slides on the cruise and shot
27 rolls on safari and in Zanzibar. I used a combination of Kodak E100vs
and Fuji 100 and Fuji 50.
- As I look at the results of my work, I again feel the emotions and
remember each moment. I have captured what I was sent to do. So I can
smile and know that my mission has just been enlarged in some way and
I can only wait with great anticipation to find out where I will be
- Now, the world has become my home and no matter where I am,
I am home.
- “I have always been an animal lover and enjoyed the beauty found
in nature,” she says. Born in Bellingham, Washington in 1953,
raised and educated in the Pacific Northwest in the state of Washington,
she graduated from Western Washington University in 1978 with a Bachelor
of Arts in Education.
- In Tanzania, they call her the “Lion Lady.” It’s
not, as you may think, because of her name. Among the locals she has
earned her title by having captured on film more than 1220 lions on
last five visits.
- For the past nine years, Sharon van Sinderen Lyon has traveled to
Africa where the beauty of its majestic wildlife awaited her camera’s
lens. This was her once-in-a-lifetime dream but that first visit merely
whetted her appetite to capture more and more. She spends hours waiting
and watching, learning the hunting, drinking and mating habits of the
animals; a patience that pays off as a seemingly uncanny knack of knowing
where and when to most likely have an opportunity to view an animal.
- Seeing these animals in the wild filled her with fire and such passion
that she was compelled to learn more and more about photography, which
lens to use for which situation, distance, lighting, etc., in order
to capture the beauty that still drives her to return.
- “Every year my desire to return to Africa has increased,”
she says. “It has become a passion, a need, something I must do.
If I had to sell everything so I could go, I would.” Strong words
and convictions, but conviction is just what she has discovered in herself.
“It’s my mission and responsibility to record the story
and to pass the story on. As an appointed steward, I need to actively
participate in the ongoing appreciation, preservation, protection and
celebration of life and the beauty which has been created. I need to
be committed and active in helping the world to become a better place
in which to live.”
- While there, she stays at the Serena
Serengeti Lodge where each night she does a slide show
presentation for the other lodge guests who come from all over the world
to go on safari as she does. Not all, however, are as dedicated or as
- “I am on game drive by 6 a.m. each morning and stay until 6
p.m.,” Lyon relates. “The longest I have been on safari
is 30 days on game drives, year 2000, which exceeded all of the others
combined and may never be exceeded. I saw 505 lions, 103 cheetahs and
66 leopards. I saw leopards every day and they called me the “Leopard
- I can hardly wait to return. It’s in my blood and heritage.
Crossing raging rivers, not knowing what is around each corner or what
you might see in the next minute, is part of what keeps me going back.”
- Lyon has seen charging elephants, fighting hippos, five cheetahs
lying down right next to the vehicle, a leopard drinking water only
three feet from the vehicle and a leopard asleep in a bird’s nest.
Has she ever been frightened? Not by the animals – only by flood
swollen rivers that needed to be crossed to get to the central Serengeti
plains and the animals she wanted to capture on film.
- Sharon is planning her next trip. She will join her Serena Serengeti
lodge family and stay through the month of January. She has established
strong bonds with the people there and has taken huge strides forward
in helping to educate and entertain them. Their thirst for knowledge
led her to establish a library in memory of her sister Susan. It has
been completed and the first shipment of books sent. If you would like
to donate books to the library, let her know (email@example.com).
- “When I am in the bush with the animals, I am one with them.
I am one of them. Each time an animal looks into my lens, I see into
their soul, connect with their spirit; I become a part of them and they
become a part of me. They are my energy, my inspiration, my passion,
and the fire that ignites my spirit and soul. My song is of Africa,
The Serengeti and the animals that are free to roam “the endless
plains.” I realize that I, again, have left another part of me
in the Serengeti and now I call the Serengeti ‘my home,’