Walking with Lions 2

Day 2 continues:

There are a lot of guest joining our group for the lion walk which makes me feel a little bit safer. (safety in numbers and all that)020.JPG

The boy Tonga and his other sister are playful kids, running around in the bush and pouncing on each other but Tamuka keeps to herself and watches all of us from a distant, looking for the weakest one. At this point, my camera dies. The batteries are dead even thought I charged them and the camera tells me they are full. This is nothing new to me. Every time something exciting happens, I either forget the camera or the batteries are dead. It’s a cursed camera. I keep an eye on Tamuka and see her stalking one of the handlers(he’s texting on his phone and she sees his not watching her) she gets ready to paunch from behind a ant hill but before she can he says “No” loudly without looking up. I realize that this is something she does a lot. I smile warmly at them realizing how close the handlers are with these cubs. He knows what she is up to without even looking at her, just like when your mom’s back is turned to you and she says “Don’t you dare take those cookies” before you even reach for them.

So Tamuka turns her hunting interest back to the group. Joining us in the group are three Asian folks that can hardly speak English and it took the guide for ever to explain to them the rules of the walk (the 10 commandments of safety as he called it) As we are walking trough tall grass in a single line, the Asian man bends down to remove a bush with thorns from the path. What he doesn’t notice is Tamuka in the tall grass behind him. As soon as he bends down (bum to her) she charges, Husband quickly steps in front of her and with a firm NO and pointing the stick at her…she goes off to play with her siblings and “hunt” them. I’m laughing so hard I can hardly walk. She was about to jump this guy the way lions take down buffalo and I can already picture the drama that would follow. I look up and see one of the handlers laughing and he simply says “She’s naughty that one.”  I crack up again. I’m in love with Tamuka.022.JPG

We get to see a lot of game on this walk and see the cubs practise their hunting skill on each other. The little boy Tonga does not like his sisters beating him at this game and as soon as they tackle him to the ground, he starts to moan very loudly so that one of the handlers can stop this “attack” on him. Which they do. As one said “He’s just a little boy”.  Finally we get back to the cubs enclosure but they won’t go in. They first dive into the bush to each get a stick. The handlers explain that this is like toys to them. They will chew these sticks, fight over which stick belongs to who and tomorrow the stick will join us until they find a new one.

Time for breakfast and yet again we have to bear through a painfully noisy meal seeing as Ryden and his brothers are amped up this morning and the parents either need more coffee or just don’t give a shit about their own little shits.  We make a run for the chalet and spend most of the morning napping and reading. Now I have to take a moment here to tell you about napping. Have you seen the clip of Oprah telling us how much she loves bread? Well that’s how much I love napping. A holiday is not a holiday if I can’t nap whenever I want to. Even if I just got up, that is no reason for me not to take a nap. I envy my pets for being able to nap when they feel like it so sometimes I’ll pretend to eat something just so they’ll get up. I know, I’m so petty but I just can’t help it. It’s not fair that I can’t nap and they can.

I wake up from the nap to find a little mouse trying to steal one of my earrings. The grey little thief looks me in the eye and puts the earring in his mouth. Probably checking if it’s real silver or something. He drops it and runs for the dresser. (Maybe realizing the earring was fake) I don’t mind having to share the chalet with a little field mouse. I see it as a good omen. Every time we found a little mouse in a chalet we were staying in, we had the best luck with wild life and seeing things others just dream of. The little guy stays on his side of the chalet for the rest of the weekend and lucky for me, he doesn’t like any of my jewelry.052.JPG

Lunch time and then a trip to the lion enclosure where we are going to see the big men. The ones keeping me up at night.  On the lion walks, no children under 16 are allowed but this does not apply for the enclosure trip and three very busy little shits join us for this outing. Is it wrong to wish the lions get them? Probably but you really can’t blame me. We have the funny happy chap guide again and he is pumped. He explains that there are five males that share an enclose and a meal. The reason for this is to see who the dominant one is since they need the strongest male to lead the pride and breed with. The strongest bloodline is needed if these lions are to survive in the wild. Now I’m pumped too. Until we get there. These boys are huge. On the left side of the enclosure is another big male and on the right, two more. You can feel the tension. The food is place at the far end of the enclose very close to the fence where we are standing. I move back, closer to the bakkies. I plan to survive if anything goes wrong. It’s only now, as I’m typing this that I realized I left Husband at the fence, I’m not a very good wife.  The guide gives a whistle and they open the gate. I nearly piss my pants. A hundred and something kilograms of killing machine comes charging right at us(well the meat) and the biggest male picks a fight with one of the males in the right hand enclosure. The sounds that come from the fighting, awakens a primal fear within me that makes me want to run like a little bitch.031.JPG

It’s awesome, it’s scary, it’s thrillifying. Husband wants me to come closer so I can see the big males up close and for pictures of course but my heart is beating so fast I’m afraid I’ll pass out. Then there is the smell of the offal. Let me tell you, it nearly put me off meat for good. The lions love it but it makes my eyes water.  The guide does a really good job with the kids, explain to them why we have to save lions and how important they are and so on. I’m amazed about how big they are up-close. One paw is probably as big as my face!038.JPG

The rest of the day is spent watching Impala come to drink water, fish eagles mating and various birds frolicking in and around the river.048.JPG 027.JPG173.JPG041.JPG197.JPG065.JPG

After dinner, Husband and I sit outside watching the stars. It’s so bright that you would be forgiven for trying to touch one.  I see a falling star for the first time in my life. It looks like someone shot a flare from heaven. I’ve seen shooting stars racing across the night sky and disappear as quickly as they started. I’ve never seen one fall from the sky, dive towards the horizon and vanish. The falling star was much brighter then any shooting star I’ve ever seen, maybe I didn’t see it and it’s all just a trick. Not long after that two poachers quietly cross the river right in front of our chalet. The lights were off so they probably didn’t know we were sitting there. The guide told us that they have problems with poachers coming into the park to set snares and to catch fish. Husband ran to the main lodge to inform them of these two poachers while I locked myself in the chalet. You never know if these people will hurt you and I won’t risk it. In the end, nothing much happened. The one floated back across the river from where ever he came, while the other one continued on without a care in the world even though we had the spotlight on him. Brazen is all I can think to describe it. I secretly hoped that a lion would get him. (I have a lot of murder on my mind don’t I)

That night I listen to the lion choir go at it again. Some bush babies are having a fight across the river and using the bridge to chase each other and even the little mouse is locked in a fight with an intruder mouse. Well, this is Africa…peace is not her thing. The next morning we will have to get up early again  for another lion walk so I can take pictures this time. I drift off dreaming of poachers, lions and thieving mice.

On Day 3, we hunt with lions.

Die Wit Hasie

 

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