Of our many wild animal encounters, this is our favorite wild lion video. Africa just wouldn’t be Africa without its gorgeous lions. This big cat with its huge paws and claws, striking mane and bone chilling roar is both revered and feared. It is an honor to help Marnus and his Rangers protect and rescue wild Lions.
There’s nothing quite like being at a waterhole dawn at the same time as a male lion. Especially a roaring male lion. (Depicted in video. Location Etosha Pan in Namibia.) At this particular waterhole a fence of sorts separated us from him. No, we weren’t in our Land Rover, just sitting in a hide about 300 meters from camp.
Bone chilling as it was, the thrill of being in the presence of such a magnificent creature kept us mesmerized. We only felt sorry for the couple that we’d passed on the hike in, who moments earlier had seen only a deserted waterhole.
Lions on rocks to lions in trees. Lions with red faces. Lions resting after a kill like brothers. Lions close up. Lions far distant. From Southern Africa to the famed Serengeti in Tanzania we’ve been privileged to see both young and old.
Three Facts about the African Lion
Did you know…
ONE: The color of a lion’s mane matters? At least it does to a lioness. The darker the better. Actually, the more color a fully grown lion’s mane has is supposedly indicative of his health and vitality. So they say… and a lioness would know, wouldn’t she?
TWO: We were just finishing breakfast in the wilds of the Kalahari in Botswana. It was our first major adventure with the Land Rover, and hearing the lion roar… well, within a matter of minutes we were packed up and in the vehicle. Later we learned just how far a lion’s roar travels. It can be heard across 88 American football fields! That’s eight kilometers (five miles.) How far were the lions away from us that morning? Well, we did go in search of them. Never found them, so we’ll never know.
THREE: A lion’s paws and claws may be their death sentence. Sadly the poaching of lions for their body parts is on the rise. Combined with habitat loss, human predator conflicts, illegal hunting and poaching lion populations continue to fall. A little over a half a century ago there were reportedly (Dereck Joubert) over 450,000 lions in the wilds of Africa. Now, depending on who you ask, there are estimates of around 20,000.
A Hero for Lions
Fortunately, there are many good people working hard to protect the lions. One such individual is Marnus Roodbol.
We’ve known Marnus for many years now. He’s invited us to join him in the field on a couple of occasions. First in Botswana, then later in Namibia and later this year we hope to meet up with him in Mozambique.
Marnus and his Rangers protect lions from poachers. Currently Marnus works with a highly skilled team of Lion Rangers in the Greater Transfrontier Park in Southern Africa. This reserve that includes the famous Kruger National Park in north eastern South Africa, a section of Zimbabwe and reaches over into the eastern part of Mozambique. It is considered by some to be a crucial stronghold for the last truly wild lions.
As with most protected areas in Africa Villages surround much of this reserve. In particular when food and jobs are scarce people turn to poaching wildlife. This impacts the large and the small, the herbivores and the carnivores. Poaching is done with spears, snares, guns and sometimes even poison. Wild animals are hunted for the pot, to sell as bush meat locally and to crime syndicates involved with wildlife trafficking.
Lions are revered animals. For some as much dead as alive. While most of us of privilege (greater means) enjoy photo safaris, there are others who like to adorn their walls, floors and who knows what else with lion body parts. Lion paws and claws bring in the money, though penis and tails are also known to sell.
Thank goodness there are folk like Marnus and his Lion Rangers. They care enough to protect the lions. They spend days tracking lions while watching for poachers. Not only is this dangerous work, it requires navigating difficult terrain, enduring sweltering heat and swatting swarms of biting insects.
Although grueling Marnus finds his work rewarding. He talks about feeling a lion’s presence before actually spotting him. Supposedly lions see humans long before humans see them. So tracking and protecting lions is definitely not for sissies!
Marnus tells us that wild lions chose when to reveal themselves. Queen is one such lioness. Apparently, she used to stay concealed, but gradually as Marnus and his vehicle became familiar she did something rather different. She began chasing the bush vehicle, running alongside much like a dog. Is she playing or being aggressive? Is a dog playing or being aggressive?
Much like we humans get attached to our dogs and can’t imagine live without them. Marnus works hard so we won’t face the reality of a planet without real wild lions. Thank you Marnus!
We can all get involved
Although most of us can’t go into the bush and do what Marnus does to protect lions, we sure can be of some help. We can share blog posts like this. We can speak up for lions when appropriate. We can make a donation. Even a modest donation can make a difference.
Why Andrew donated…
“Thank you for all you do. Don’t ever give up. We will win this battle together.”
Currently we are collecting funds to buy six tents for his lion rangers.
One tent, sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of the bush, costs around $194. When you give just $11.64 it goes a long way to help.
100% of your charitable donation today goes to protect lions.
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Nikela is a fundraising nonprofit on a mission to help people protecting nature, especially doing wildlife conservation.