My friend Bobz from the US just added a comment to my blog, in which he mentioned “Daniel our 11 year old who still worries that Reggie will be attacked by a lion!”
So I really wanted to reassure Daniel that there really aren’t any lions, elephants or wildebeest in the streets of Cape Town (although there are minibus taxis and muggers, which are even more scary).
In fact, the last time I was anywhere near lions was during our honeymoon in September 2003, when we spent two magnificent days at Mount Etjo Game Lodge in Namibia. There are lots of wild animals at Mount Etjo, including elephant, black and white rhino, zebra, hippo, wildebeest, and many different species of antelope (kudu, roan antelope, nyala, duiker, bontebok, dik-dik, steenbok, etc), some of which are on the rare and endangered lists. The one day we went on a long game drive, where we saw loooots of animals, including the very shy rhino.
And one night after supper, when it was already pitch dark outside, a group of us were driven out to an enclosure somewhere, where the lions are fed on a fairly regular basis. As Mount Etjo has a black rhino breeding program, keeping and feeding the lions in a large separate portion of the game sanctuary discourages them from hunting the wild game on the huge farm itself, particularly when there are vulnerable young animals around.
We were separated from the lions by a fairly sturdy wall, which had gaps in it through which we could watch them. They were busy feeding on a wildebeest. It was all rather gory and bloody, but spellbinding to watch the dynamics among them. The huuuge male lion (whose rumbling growl was very frightening in the dark) was the first to feed. He tore off large chunks of the meat, ripping it to pieces.
The cubs were clamouring from further away, making such cute little sounds, that sounded exactly like whiny and hungry kids. At first they kept their distance, but gradually they inched closer, pawing at a chunk of meat. Big-Daddy would let them for a little bit, but then he’d suddenly growl at them and swat them away with his massive paws. But they’d keep coming back.
It was only when Big-Daddy was pretty much finished, that the Ladies were allowed to get a bite. I felt quite sorry for them, because they had kept up an incessant rumbling in the background, as they were obviously ravenous.
What an awe-inspiring experience.
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