Our first outing with the 2MZeds was a training walk to learn how to safely interact with the lions. It was just a bit ironic that it immediately followed our walk with Dendi and Damara, where we witnessed a heart pounding standoff between the 2Ds and a herd of buffalo, and were ordered to run as fast as our legs could move us.
Tag Archives: lion encounter
Prior to our arrival at Lion Encounter we heard tales of volunteers on lion walks running for their lives from herds of buffalo and elephants, sometimes climbing trees for safety. While this sounded very exciting, and not just a little scary, I tried to recall the last time I'd climbed a tree. When my memory drew a blank I realized I'm not sure I ever have climbed a tree, and I tried to assure myself that if I were to find myself in a similar situation adrenaline would see me through.
A panoramic view of the grounds at Lion Encounter with the White House in the background.
On a nightly basis our room was literally abuzz with activity. Silence the noisy fan from pushing hot, Zambian air in circles over our bodies and you’d hear a lizard scurrying behind the dresser. Turn on the light and one, if not several, rain spiders would freeze in silence on the ceiling, carefully watching us with their many eyes. I was always happy to see our roommates because it meant I knew where they were and so didn't have to worry where they weren't, unlike some of the other creatures that came party crashing into what was called the White House.
About 10 kilometers west of Livingstone, nestled in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Forest, lies ALERT's headquarters in Zambia. It's here on our first day at Lion Encounter that we took our first walk with Zamfara and Zaria along the banks of the Zambezi river.
Rubbing my eyes and trying to will myself awake while the line slowly creeps forward I look across the people gathered with us in the terminal. That's when I notice the hunting rifle cases. It suddenly dawns on me that we’re about to board a flight on our way to Africa to once again volunteer in the name of lion conservation, alongside a group of men who will be traveling there in the hopes of shooting a lion, if not several.
You either get the point of Africa or you don't. If you can't get past the fear of animals, of poverty, the juggernaut of nature, then you probably won't. But if you do stand in it and smell it and listen to it, then it will be one of the biggest, most profound and powerful things you will ever feel.
It's official: we're returning to Africa!
Lion Country Series 2
Lion Country Series 1