11 May Tzaneen -Mokopane
At the usual meeting with the local farming community kindly arranged by the McCormick dealer, last night, we received an invitation to a truly unmissable activity which amply deserves an extra early start. It’s still dark when we leave a fast asleep town. Then the sun slowly rises over the horizon, casting its pale rays on fields shrouded in mist, dew drops shimmering on the grass, and it’s as if the curtains were rasing on nature’s stage. The rangers open the gates and we are surrounded by lions. Literally surrounded – they rub against our legs like big cats. Very big ones! it’s called “walking with lions” here in South Africa, and that’s exactly what it is – you walk surrounded by lions, and can even pat them. It’s a truly unique experience that many animal lovers disapprove of because the big felines are not meant to be pets. Their feral instincts can be curbed in the young, but once they grow into adult lions they become too dangerous, and have to be discarded. Many end up as trophies, the sacrificial victims of the so-called “canned hunting” business. Sad, but we have to admit the emotions of the past half hour will stay with us for the rest of our lives. We have to move on. Our tractor journey is coming to a close, but before we can declare our mission accomplished we still have some important rendezvous. The first one will be tomorrow.