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Michel Ghatan

(Swiss, b.1975)

When We Were Kings

Serengeti, Tanzania, 2016
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper
24 x 36 in. / 36 x 48 in. / 40 x 60 in. (paper size)
signed and numbered


**Please note these photographs are printed to order and will take between 3-4 weeks to be ready.**

Direct from the artist’s studio

All photographs are signed and numbered and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the photographer.

“This image is still haunting me as years go by. 

Namiri Plains lies on the remote eastern corridor of the Serengeti. It was closed for research purposes for over 20 years and recently reopened for safari. The landscape is harsh, dry and the game is scarce. I spent a week there during the dry season and the weather was nothing but dust winds and high temperatures averaging 35C. Despite all this, it is a kingdom for lions and the Vumbi pride are the mighty royals. The Vumbis were immortalised by National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Michael “Nick” Nichols in a magnificent and challenging documentary entitled “Lions on the Edge” produced in 2012. The rulers of the Vumbis are two dark-maned lions Bob and Ziggy Marley as known by the local Maasai tribe. 

We saw the Vumbis the day before during a windstorm with their females and cubs in the distance and decided to try our luck on the next day. Unfortunately for us, the weather got worse and the visibility conditions unforgiving. My guide and tracker were thinking of calling it a day and head back to camp, but I had a feeling we would find them before sunset. As often it is on safari you hope the lions will find you if you can’t find them! 

I was cleaning my lenses from the dust and dirt when I saw Patena our tracker scanning the horizon and giving me a big smile. At last, these two stunning lions were in sight, both lying on the dead grass clearly exhausted from the heat with no trees to be in sight. 

This encounter happened with no rehearsal and I needed to be quick at adjusting the camera. With the strong wind and the sun kicking my left eye I suddenly saw in the viewfinder Bob standing up tall and defiant. I took one frame and left the camera. I needed to see him in his magnificence. 

I know Bob died a year ago attacked by other lions. Ziggy has vanished and hasn’t been seen since.” - Michel Ghatan

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