It’s early and cold but this time I’m up and running with a smile. I get to walk with lions again. The camera is sorted so now I can take as many pictures as I like. We are joined by only one other couple on this walk and even the cubs seem to approve of this. Running and playing (making for great photos) but I keep my eye on Tamuka, no safety in numbers today. I get some great shots of the cubs. What a great way to start the morning. We get to chat to the handlers about the cubs and the bigger lions we will be joining on their hunt toning. One of the handlers (in an attempt to play) stalks the cubs from behind, as soon as they see him (not knowing its him with his hood up) they get scared, make these little sad crying sounds and run to the nearest handler. My heart melts. They might be big in size but all three of them are still just babies. The handler that spooked them had to make nice for the rest of the walk. We encounter another handler and one of the volunteers about 100m away from us in the bush. The volunteer lost her phone on one of the walks and they are now looking for it. Tamuka sees them and all her focus shifts to them. Her handler had to call her a bunch of times before she broke off and started walking with us again. The handler explained that because those two were not walking with our group, she immediately saw them as prey and had he not called her away, she might have tried to hunt them. I think it’s a good thing though. This means that these lion cubs don’t see all humans as their friends and for me, this means they will be able to be true wild lions some day.
The lodge has emptied out a bit, it’s Sunday so we have a nice peaceful breakfast. I realize I lost our chalet key on the walk. I never ever lose anything. After reporting it to reception, I find the key hanging in the door. In my rush to go walking with the cubs, I never took the key. This just shows you how excited you get but there is no time to dwell on this silly mistake, we have to go ride elephants. Yes, the giants of Africa. I’m so panicked about this that I want to cry. I have a deep fear of elephants but I also think they are the most wonderful creatures to ever walk the earth.
We learn that the four elephants were rescued in the early 90’s. They were part of a group of sixteen that were in danger of dying in the drought. The park can only handle four elephants and the others were relocated to other parks. One male and three females. I can’t remember all the names but I get to go on the problem child of the group. It’s amazing how big they are up close and how truly gentle these giants are. The guide tells us that elephants can sense fear and will take advantage of this to try and shake you off. Telling me to not be afraid is like telling a human not to feel hungry. I somehow manage to keep it together for the ride. One of the elephants keeps picking up things like sticks and offering them to me as gifts. The handler tells me that she is the sweetheart of the group and likes giving everyone something but you have to give her a snack in return. If you don’t, she’ll keep tapping your leg with her trunk. I still have the stick she gave me and it’s going up on the wall with some of the photos. How anyone can look at these animals through a scope and pull the trigger is beyond me. You have to be a special kind of sick.
The moment I get on the elephant, a strange calm comes over me. The sounds she makes to communicate with the others vibrate through me. You feel her slow rhyme as we start to move and from atop this majestic creature, I see Africa through her eyes. It speaks to your soul. I now have a deep respect for elephants and a great love for these beautiful souls. The handler tells me that the boy broke his tusk the other day because he was picking a fight with the girls. He tells me all kinds of stories about family squabbles, volunteers spoiling the elephants with new kinds of fruit and how they are still children even though all of them are older than twenty five years . Later that afternoon I see that when the elephants are take to the river. They charge down into the water like children to candy. Trumpeting and splashing each other with water, chase antelope like children running after a ball. It’s wonderful to watch. You can only ride these elephants in the morning or afternoon, the rest of the time is spent playing and grazing.
The last story I’m going to share with you is about hunting with lions. I once again apologize for any grammar or spelling errors made, I did try hard to fix all of them but since this is my second language I tend to miss things (like the too and to). Thank you for visiting Die Wit Hasie and I hope you enjoy reading about my little adventures.
Die Wit Hasie