Natacha is waiting here for us with drinks in hand 🙂 What a nice surprise….but it gets better….
I really didn’t think about this area being much more than a “sign”. Until I looked behind me – down that path and saw a lion walk across! I got chills…um actually…. REALLY….. BIG …….GOOSEBUMPS! Maybe I needed that drink to calm my nerves huh??
Natacha told us that they wanted to add some atmosphere to the camp, so they bought three lions…
If you come to my house and I tell you I added atmosphere…that means you’re gonna get a candle at your place at the table…lol….not lions!!!
The intimidating thing is that at first you don’t see the fence….just the lions. The thought of walking about with lions, rhino’s, cape buffalo in the area brings a whole new level to the hiking experience. Natacha and staff have set up a beautiful area for us to enjoy our appetizers while watching these beautiful animals. (Unfortunately I don’t remember what we had for appetizers…I was too busy with the lions)
Look at the glare in this lions eyes. If you look really close you’ll notice that the hair on his back is standing up. He is hunting us…………If there were no fence…we would be dead…they haven’t eaten in two days…
They eat once every three to four days. This is to ensure proper health and also that they don’t get too fat. Their enclosure is approximately 2 acres and the surrounding fence is electric. Below the ground are concrete walls 20 feet deep to ensure that the lions can not dig their way out.
These lions have never been handled by humans, but they were born in captivity. They are fed only dead carcasses. This helps them distiguish between food and moving people when they are fed. If they were fed live animals, this would pose a risk for those that maintain their enclosure and those that feed them as they would not distinguish between moving animal food source and moving human.
SAY CHEESE!! ROOOAAAAARRRR!!!!
This was an experience really beyond words and I new that I wanted to go back and get some more pictures of them and tape some video.
So a couple of days later, I stayed back at camp while the guys went hunting and strolled off to the enclosure.
I shot some video and took these photographs…………………..but remember when I said – there’s mystery around every corner? Sometimes ignorance is bliss…..
I dilly dallied around the cage, feeling totally safe….I even walked the perimeter and the lions followed me. They call this “walking the lions” – it gives them exercise because they’ll follow you…totally cool….
What I didn’t know was that while all this was happening, Marlet and Natacha had just rescued lion cubs that had walked into camp….and we didn’t know where their mother was.
So after, I found out about the lion cubs, not knowing where the lioness was…my thoughts were racing…Can you just imagine how protective a lioness with cubs would be…and I was with the lions?? I really laid awake all night thinking about what could have happened …and it gave me bigger goosebumps!
We would hear the lions roar every night and about 4:30 am on the dot every morning. It’s loud…and its DEEP!…They were more predictable than roosters….
But the morning that all this happened, we all mentioned how loud the lions were roaring and that it was much louder and they seemed much more rowdy. Little did we know…
It’s hard to say exactly what happened or just why the cubs found their way into camp. But, we suspect that, since the cubs were skinny, they were not being fed because the mother hadn’t made a kill in some time. She can only nurse so long if she doesn’t make a kill and afterwards she will wean them early.
At this point we didn’t know if she was on the property or not.
The next morning Trackers were sent out to look for tracks. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for the cubs, they didn’t find fresh tracks.
Either the mother abandoned them and sent them on their way, or something happened to her and left the cubs orphaned. Either way, the roar of the lions brought them into camp.
However it was that they found themselves without their mother, they wouldn’t have made it a week. They were too young to hunt and so they would have been hunted. It’s the circle of life….
Thank goodness though, they were rescued and given to a local breeding project where they will be cared for and given a good quality lion life. One day, they’ll have cubs of their own ensuring the continuation of these gorgeous and magestic Kings of the Wild.