Tracking Lions

Tracking Lions

"Hop out. The tracks lead this way…"

Our hunter friend points off into the thick bush.

It’s hot and humid this time of year in the bush, but the ground has received just enough rain for the foliage to be thick. Almost too thick to traverse on foot because you can’t see what’s around the next bend in the trail.

We follow along single file through the dense felt. All 5 senses on high alert.

We walk as stealthily as we can, but in all reality, it’s not stealth at all. Not for a beast of this intelligence. They can hear, smell and see far better than we can.

As we round a large bend, the air is thick with expectancy. But it’s like hunting for a needle in a haystack. How could we possibly know where they’ll be?

Then we saw them. Bright yellow eyes. They saw straight through me. Told me I was feeble. And the experienced guide with the gun? Well suddenly, he didn’t seem so experienced.

It was surreal. Up on all fours, leaning forward, making a split decision whether to fight or flee.

Then the deep guttural growl—warning us that any step further would be trespassing.

The growl shakes you to your core. You can feel it more than your ears can hear it. It’s eerie, sickening, beautiful, and terrifying all in the same inhale of shock and unknown.

Then there they were in plain sight. Just through a gap in the underbrush. Two male Cape lions. And the one was the largest male lion I had ever seen. Massive. Black mane. Regal and commanding respect.

We froze. Waiting to see what the king of beasts would decide to do.

He and his mate bolted deeper into the bush. Safety and the words of our freaked-out guide prevailed. We turned back. Having seen more than we anticipated. But wanting more than we saw.

Danger leads to stories. Risks could lead to rewards. A roar turns into a memory. And we all need a few of those.