Time for a break, so we stop in a beautiful clearing and unload our cold box to have lunch of a sweet bun with sausage and chutney. Delicious. Cordial and crisps with a piece of fruit. There is a bushy spot close to the vehicle where we can have a nature break, the only creature to observe anything was a hyrax, or dassie, and that scarpered quick smart to avoid looking at any bums. Loud clapping of hands ensures anything lurking in the undergrowth is scared off – or is that attracted? No predators in sight.
We’re all joshing around quite relaxed, until some eagle-eyed person spots movement 1/2 km away- coming round the bend in the road at the end of the clearing is a lioness – Everyone in the vehicle – NOW.
It seems an over-reaction at first, but then I remind myself that lions can move incredibly fast; by the time lioness decided for a quick snack and made a run for us, I suspect we wouldn’t have had time to get everyone in the truck.
Humans make for good eating, and besides, I don’t want Cindy to have to shoot. It would be to kill.
But – when we are all in, we drive right up to her. She’s not the slightest bit interested in us paparazzi, and lies on the ground not 50 meters from where we are parked. She makes the most incredible coughing/ growling/ rumbling noises, letting her friends know where she is. After 15 minutes or so, she gets up and ambles off, without a backward glance, and within seconds she’s completely disappeared. WHAT a privilege.
Exhilarated, we go back to pick up our esky (for the non-Australians out there – a cooler box) which was abandoned in the scramble to safety, and continue on our mission to monitor elephants. We cannot let random wildlife experiences distract us from our “job” – the preservation and conservation efforts of the team at Shamwari Conservation. I am eternally grateful that the coordinators make the time to stop and let us visually feast on anything in the reserve.
Footnotes: * Go to www.photodelmundo.net for more images