GAMEPARK BLOG – I’m not Lion

Now there are many animals that Africa is known for, Elephants, Rhinos, Leopards, Hippos and so many more. But only one has the title of the King!

Whether you prefer Simba or Mufasa everyone loves Lions and was hoping to see one while we were out at the Game Reserve. Little did we know what an amazing day we had in store. The reserve we are staying on is not a BIg 5 reserve (a reserve containing Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalos, Leopards and Lions) so we thought we would have to wait to Friday when we visit Hluhuwe-Imfolozi Reserve for any chance to see lions.

But as we set off to begin work in the morning our volunteer Ridley who has the eyes of a hawk spotted something through the fence… As we stopped the vehicle to look at the ‘ears’ he had seen in the grass we couldn’t believe our luck. A female lion hiding in the grass only 15m away from us. Already amazed by the sighting we couldn’t believe it when from behind her we saw her cub heading in our direction! Then as she moved towards us another surprise, a dead Wildebeest that she had taken down before we arrived, our guide could not believe our luck. On separate occasions he had seen a lion and a cub and a lion kill but never together. It was a truly incredible sight. (Photos to come in the next day or so)

Unfortunately half the group were not with us at the time as we drove in separate vehicles, but luckily there was more in store for the day.

Paige making friends

Paige making friends

After working we made our way to the Elephant interaction centre where you have a chance to learn about the enormous African Elephant. Rambo, Jabulani and Rachel are three wild elephants who have grown up with human contact and come once a day for a public feeding and information session.

Charlie, RAMBO and Hannah

Charlie, RAMBO and Hannah

Everyone was able to take turns learning about these magnificent animals up close with an opportunity to even hand feed the giant bull (male) elephant Rambo. At 3.5 tonnes and 35 years of age he is already a big boy but will grow another 1.5 tonnes as he reaches full maturity and size at age 50!

Mckenzie, RAMBO and Ridley

Mckenzie, RAMBO and Ridley

Female Elephant Rachel and 4 year old Jabulani (Meaning happy in Zulu) were a lot of fun to feed as well and made for a fantastic experience. We learnt so much about the emotional qualities and bonds that Elephants have and everyone left in awe as to how amazing this animal is.

Driving back to our reserve we decided to drive through a neighbouring Big 5 reserve in case we could catch any sightings due to our good luck in the morning, and would you believe it Ridley struck again. Up against the fence line he saw what he thought was a lion, this time as we stopped the vehicles we couldn’t believe our luck 3 young male lions walking in a pack! With everyone from the group there this time we were over the moon. With our cameras on rapid fire we wwatched the lions head along the fence line then walk in front of our vehicles only 10 metres away. It was so exciting to watch as these 3 walked in front of us and carried on to the other half of the park.

Ridley spots the three lions

Ridley spots the three lions

One of the lions crossing in front of our car

One of the lions crossing in front of our car

 

I don’t think anyone could wipe the smiles off our faces the entire drive back to our reserve. We then got stuck into finishing off our animal enclosure clearing work for the rest of the afternoon and finished up the day with a huge bonfire and delicious dinner. As we sat round discussing the day no one could believe how lucky we had been, we also all agreed that Ridley has a future in being a guide with his eagle eye for animals.

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