No day will end up the way you expect it to here at African Dream, it ends up being so much more than you can imagine.
I was quietly drinking my morning coffee and having breakfast, getting ready to go riding at the stables. Brianna, one of the other students came down, “There has been a change of plans, the permits came through and the lion capture is happening today. “ Talk about a total change of plans.
By the afternoon we were ready to go, with one snack box, two impala, three dart guns and shooters, four blankets, seven tarps, and eight students squished in Glen’s bakkie by some form of miracle (aka Traci Thomson), ready for the long wait ahead of us. Once the area was decided on to dart the lion, everything was prepared. The impala were set up as bait and then we settled in to wait, no idea how long it would take for the lion to hear and respond to the recorded distress call of a buffalo.
To our luck and amazement, the seven lion were very close, and it only took them three minutes to show their faces, and six minutes before they started eating. It was clear that the lion were starving, and malnourished, since these seven sub adults were without a lioness to help teach them how to hunt successfully. This hunger left the lion un-phased after the first round of darts was fired. The lion jumped back, startled, but quickly got back to eating. They started to nod off one by one, still trying to get in one last bite, even as they fell asleep on top of their food. While the last one was falling asleep, the team quickly went to work taking samples and tagging the lion. You never realize how heavy a lion is until you are dragging one on a tarp into the back of a truck. You also never realize how big their paws are until you are in the back of a truck and the only way to get out is to crawl over three lion, who, if they were to wake up, would think I was a rather tasty snack (it’s our theory vegetarians have the best flavour).
You don’t think about that in the moment, it only hits you at the end of the day how awesome and scary it is, to have helped with the capture of seven lion, which will have a better chance at surviving with another rehabilitated lioness, on a new territory they can call their own.
Just another awesome day at African Dream!
Written by Katya Hooker (Austria)