This lioness is a shoo-in
At the start of this amazing sighting, you can sure bet that Norman was not happy at the loss, but after seeing this lioness play and be so inquisitive it had definitely made him feel a bit better...
At the beginning of all our EcoTraining courses we advise all students that if they leave any items outside their tents, they may fall victim to the many animals that frequent the camp.
With items like shoes the danger is clear, they are a hot spot for creepy crawlies like scorpions and spiders that could get inside them and make themselves at home, and if you are not careful when putting them back on, you might be in for a nasty surprise. Being immersed in remote areas and surrounded by nature, one has to be conscious and aware of what is happening around you and respect the African bush at all times.
So, with this in mind, we would like to tell you a story of an unfortunate event that took place when our backups went out to check the camps water pipes – namely to make sure that the elephants hadn’t been misbehaving and pulled them up (again). One their way back to Selati Camp they spotted a pride of lions, they were about 100m from the camp.
Back at camp, once the call came over the radio, the students and instructors quickly dropped what they were doing and 20 excited people took the land rovers to go view them. After watching them for a few moments the lions got up and started walking towards the camp. The vehicles briefly lost sight of the lions as there is a lot of thicker bush in this area, however, everyone quickly realized that they would be able to get a better view from one of the instructor’s tents located on the Eastern side of camp. This particular tent belonged to instructor Norman Chauke’s, Norman’s morning had started out leading the students on a 3-hour walk into the reserve. On return to camp Norman’s shoes were a little dirty (and didn’t smell that great) so he had decided to leave them outside his tent to air out and despite what he tells each and every student, he had forgotten his shoes outside – you see where this story his going…
From Norman’s tent, the staff and students were now able to observe the lions on a rock in the river. On the opposite side of this riverbank, a troop of baboons suddenly realised that the lions were there and begun to alarm. At this point, a curious sub-adult lioness decided to have a bit of a game with the baboon’s and started to practice her hunting skills. Needless to say, that she was unsuccessful, but in saying that, this is when she decided to explore her surrounding and decided to come up to camp, an wander around non-other than Norman’s tent.
Noticing a plastic chair at the side of the tent the lioness decided to investigate. Deciding that the chair was now a ‘toy’, she used her massive paws and played with it. After knocking it over she quickly got bored with this game which is when she noticed the pair of veldskoen shoes lying outside. After deciding that they looked like an interesting chew toy she picked one of them up and ran off with it. Like any other young cat, they enjoy chewing and licking different objects. This behaviour is similar to a human child that is teething and learning about their environment. After deciding she had had all the fun she could with the veldskoen she made a second trip up to Norman’s tent to possibly see what other fun ‘toys’ had been left around. She found a welcome matt at the entrance of the tent, but after a quick chew and taking it down to the river bed to show the other lions, it was abandoned. Enjoying this new found game she came back to the tent one final time. With great delight, she noticed that there was another shoe for her to play with. So, she took it back to the rock in the riverbed but to her dislike, an older lioness decided that it was time to move on and the shoe was abandoned.
At the start of this amazing sighting, you can sure bet that Norman was not happy at the loss of his shoes, but after seeing this lioness play and be so inquisitive it had definitely made him feel a bit better about his stolen shoes. The following morning, out on morning activity, one shoe was recovered, it was covered in bite marks, lion saliva and had broken shoelaces, the other shoe, even after tracking the lions on foot for 5km and seeing them relaxing in the bush had completely disappeared.
The moral of the story is, don’t do what Norman did (do what he tells you to do), but do listen to the instructors when they tell you to not leave your shoes or other items outside your tent, however, if you, let’s hope you get to have just as awesome a sighting.
***This all took place prior to the Lock-Down in South Africa***