I all along expected a pride visit (or hoped for one at least) so brought along an infra-red torch to use with my video camera’s night vision mode, but since I had one hand bandaged and since the infra-red torch was in my vehicle I decided to only do audio recordings. I would have had to open the tent annex’s zip to get to the torch and seeing the lionesses’ reaction to the zip noise from my friends’ tent I decided it was best just to keep still. The roaring started again – this time it was IN our camp:
A very tall walking young male lion was strutting around, passing right under my roof top tent’s window. I wondered if he dethroned the male down at the waterhole. He certainly had the attitude of a newly crowned king! He moved out of my vision around the front of the vehicle. The next moment I heard a commotion on the other side of the vehicle – at out porta – loo enclosure no more than a meter away from us in the tent. I heard a ripping sound – mr. lion clawed our porta-loo enclosure.
Slowly but surely the lions started to leave our camp – moving on to the next campsite. By now day was breaking and I could actually see quite well. I opened the roof top tent window, got out onto the vehicle roofrack, from where I had a 360 Deg. view of our surroundings. No more lions in our immediate vicinity. Now it was the people at site 5 having a visit by the lions. They must have heard our commotion and since it was day-break could actually see the lions coming, as we could see them sitting in their vehicles.
I did a bit of damage assessment. The toilet enclosure was a bit mauled:
The fairly new table looked a bit warn, with a hole in it – most probably a tooth mark:
No vehicle damage. Just a lot a lion spoor around. The male’s spoor was very prominent. Certainly bigger than my no.9
It was the birthday of one of our friends’ kids – turning six. The first words she said after the ordeal were that it was her best birthday ever!
All the vehicle wheels were sprayed with insect repellent (doom
ed so to speak
), so maybe it worked, as we had no tyre damage. The stench around the site was unbearable – especially under the A-frame. Our porta-loo enclosure was also covered with lion pee. Clearly they came to assert their territorial dominance.
I learned quite a bit from this ordeal:
1. The lions did not just past through. The came to visit each camp purposefully. They are very much aware of us and duly came to leave there signatures in our camp.
2. Stand 1 (ours) had the longest visit. They then went on to site 2, seemed to skip 3,4 (or visit briefly) and moving over to site 5, before exiting in the direction they came from, past site 6.
3. Lions are hyper sensitive to any noise at night and do react on it. I suspect if any of the other 2 senses (i.e. seeing, smelling) are also triggered at the same time, things may turn bad.
4. The best defence to lions in the camp is to do absolutely nothing. Be very still and they will ignore you. As a last resort I always carry pepper spray with me at these camps during night time.
5. A porta-loo is a good idea but be sure the smell attracts lion attention. I thought of that but also thought the smell of the chemicals will mask any urine sent. Wrong.
It was our morning of departure at Rooiputs – maybe sadly for the last time. So after singing happy birthday to the birthday princess, we decided to pack-up.
The lions were still lying about 100 m away, so we put the kids in the vehicles while packing – all the time having a watchful eye over the lions. Again I saw some humour. Normally we are watching them. Now the are watching us
. We were on our way to Ai-Ais hot spring resort in Namibia for a well deserved break for the kids. At Mata Mata I parked right against the fence. At least I can wake up looking over the fence – pretending there is none:
Still everything all of a sudden felt very domestic. I missed Rooiputs already…
At this point in time I don’t know what to do next year to satisfy my KTP craving. I do really love the SA fenced camps but not being able to go to an un-fenced camp as well is a huge disappointment. Maybe do another Eco – at least then we can sleep in the field again…
@ BB: Yes it was strange. I felt happy when the lions left, but also happy when they returned.
PS.: If anybody knows what is the position with the old male lion at Rooiputs, I would really like to know as well, thanks.