In an interview with Portray, Cyril Christo shared how he, his wife Marie, along with their son Lysander spent over 20 years taking in the majesty and extraordinary challenges facing the continent of Africa. He spoke passionately about his family’s bond with Africa’s incomparable and increasingly fragile wildlife. For as long as he can remember, Lysander has been alongside them marveling at elephants. Like his parents, he has also taken photos of elephants and other animals and has even spoken on their behalf.
Their beautiful movie, “Walking Thunder,” is emotionally touching. You will carry the message and the images of these majestic creatures with you long after you have seen it. Nearly 90% of elephants have been and are being destroyed for ivory.
Their newest endeavor, “Silent Pride, The last Lions of Africa” is about the Lions and their connection to humanity. Cyril has shared with us some photographs from their upcoming book, “Lords of the Earth- The Entwined Destiny of Wildlife and Humanity” These photos, can be purchased in our gallery to help fund several projects: including the new book, and distribution of “Walking Thunder” and their new endeavor, “Silent Pride.”
I have seen first hand how, day in and day out, Cyril tirelessly, perseveres with positivity, continuing this mission as he has for over two decades. Writing books, creating movies and getting the message out. Having articles written by Vanity Fair and the backing of advocates like Agnes Gund and Dorothy Lichtenstein to name a couple. One thing he wrote to me personally, has stuck with me, “Know that we are fighting very hard, so we never have to say to the children, This is where the wild things were.” Their dedication is remarkable. We are happy to write about the family, the bond, and the love that surrounds them as they fight for those without voices.
Cyril Christo – Marie and I have been looking at the relationship between tribal people and wildlife for the past 20 years, mostly in Africa, the continent that Isak Dinesen described as being alone among the continents because there “God and the Devil” are one as no where else one earth.
On September 11, 2001 Marie and I witnessed an ecstatic Ngoma dance at the base of Mt. Ngiro, where Ngai, the supreme deity of the Samburu resides; we were mesmerized by the Bushmen trance dances in the Kalahari and in Ethiopia we were privileged to see a Hamar initiate successfully jump over over his prize bull and become a man. Everywhere elders gave us warnings about global warming; how the rains had altered; how things were better in the early days. One Turkana elder emphasized that the droughts had come only with the coming of the white man. All the elders agreed that the Creator was punishing humanity because we had forgotten how to pray, how to respect the elemental powers. If there are lessons to be drawn from that initimitable continent, the place we have ignored at our peril, it is that Africa’s lessons are our own. Her first peoples are the oldest on earth, her nomads are some of the last to wander the vast sands of the absolute horizons, which embody our earliest memory. We persuaded Nat Geo to realize the first film this decade on the elephant crisis “Battle for the Elephants”( 2013) and convinced Vanity Fair to run the enormous “Agony and Ivory” article written by Alex Shoumatoff in August 2011 that galvanized the conservation world to the urgency facing the African elephant. We realized 3 books “Lost Africa The Eyes of Origin”, Assouline 2005, “Walking Thunder- In the Footsteps of the African Elephant” Merrell 2009 and “In Predatory Light- Lions and Tigers and Polar Bears”, Merrell 2013.
Marie and I were selected in the cop21 Environmental Photography Exhibit where leaders gathered for the Paris Climate Accord. We have just finished “Walking Thunder- Ode to the African Elephant” a 93 minute documentary,with the participation of our son Lysander who learned to walk and talk in Africa 14 years ago. It was endorsed by Jane Goodall and just honored at Jackson Wild at the UN in March for a world effort to create a Convention on Biological Diversity to preserve what is left of the planet in this momentous time. Jane also wrote an intro to our next book, “Lords of the Earth- The Entwined Destiny of Wildlife and Humanity” which we hope to publish within the year. We are looking for patrons of our 20 x 24 inch silver gelatin photographs to support our film on the meaning of the lion to humanity – “Silent Pride,” which will include oral traditions and unique stories gathered from tribes going back a generation.
They also have a 501 c3 non profit, the WildIze Foundation 730 Twining Flats Road Aspen Colorado 81611, if people wish to make donations for the next film. It is headed by Eli Weiss who has worked with NGO’s in Kenya for many years. She can be contacted at (970) 306-2502.
Walking Thunder was honored at the UN for Jackson Wild, World Wildlife Day.
Cyril and Marie have a publisher and are looking for backing to realizetheir next book: “Lords of the Earth- The Entwined Destiny of Wildlife and Humanity.” It will include several of their son’s Lysanders (14 years old) photographs.
In Predatory Light, Lions and Tigers and Polar Bears” Photo courtesy of: Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson