It's another glorious morning at Antelope Park as we wake to the roaring of lions and the chatter of birds, have a quick cup of coffee, and start the day off walking with Lewa and Laili. Really, it just doesn't get any better than this.
Category Archives: Conservation & Activism
I knew I was going to have a good day today. I was in Africa with the lions - how could it possibly not be a good day? What I didn't know is that today I would have an epiphany.
The members of Ingonyama hail from Dete, Zimbabwe, which is near Hwange National Park, and have been friends since childhood, having grown up together in an orphanage. They started out performing at lodges near Hwange and also at Victoria Falls and use their talents and sense of humor to help educate school children about problems in the country such as HIV/AIDS and wildlife conservation, and they work closely with youth camps at Painted Dog Conservation near their hometown.
Chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp. Sorry, what was that? Chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp. Oh, right. Hang on. Chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp. Okay, okay! Zvakwana!
It’s 5:45am, my watch keeps reminding me with its incessant flashing and chirping. But I’m already awake and have been for some time. It’s hard to sleep through the excitement of hearing several dozen lions roaring through the night. Even though the BPG is two-and-a-half kilometers away, it sounds as if Big Boy and his gang are right outside the tent flap.
“Lions can sometimes give you a certain look when you’re out with them. We call it ‘the naughty look.’ They focus on you intensely, ears back, pupils narrowed. It’s difficult to describe what that look is, exactly; but believe me, you’ll know it if you get it."
Zimbabwe is a beautiful country, but what we observe as we ride through the capital of Harare and then throughout the four hour bus ride to Gweru, the country appears tired and neglected. Stripped and burned out cars on the side of the road, litter everywhere, the landscape blackened from frequent fires, and little wildlife. In addition to the crammed buses and trucks shuttling people to and from their destinations, there are people walking along the road everywhere, and in the middle of nowhere. Women with babies on their backs and bags of maize meal on their heads, men and women carrying overstuffed luggage, people sitting alongside the road selling small amounts of fruit or vegetables. You can't help but wonder where these people come from and where they are trying to get to as you drive through the countryside. Maybe they're trying to get to the nearest town, maybe to family, to work, to school, to a medical clinic. It just feels like wherever they're trying to go, it's going to be a very long and rough journey.
When we land in Harare it's four in the afternoon on a hot, sunny Sunday - 40 hours since we've left Seattle. The airport looks well-worn and disheveled, with its immigration officers in a similar state of adornment: thread bare uniforms, name tags missing but for the pinholes left behind to mark their absence, epaulets hanging haphazardly, expressions drifting disinterestedly. Queued up to pay for our entry visa we wait. And wait. And wait some more. Welcome to Zim.
The time has come to end the begin. Packed (hopefully), ready (mostly), excited (definitely!) - we're off to the airport and on towards another country on another continent in a different hemisphere to begin an adventure that will take us halfway around the world and back, literally.
Lion Country Series 2