Etosha National Park in Namibia, is one of the most beautiful parks in Southern Africa and it was here we got our first intimate encounter with a Lion and Lioness. Here’s an extract from Andy’s diary on that day…

“We were drowsy and flagging in the 40 degree heat as we took a narrow loop road. After fifteen minutes we reached a split in the road and began to turn left…..’LLLLLLion!’ Shelly beat me to the call again. I won’t tell you what I said. A female lion lay in the shade of a large tree no more than 6 metres away. She was a beauty!
I stopped the car up right by her. For the next twenty minutes we watched from the safety of our Toyota tin can as the sleepy Lion nodded her head, opened and closed her eyes and generally seemed to accept our presence.

She did finally get up for a stretch and to walk slowly in front of the car bonnet, never taking her piercing eyes off of us, reminding us who was the boss!

It wasn’t long before a male lion shook his sleepy head and padded slowly out of the long grass behind her and slumped lazily to the shaded ground. The female sensed a disturbance in the golden long grasses on the far side of the road, and went to investigate.

The reason for the disturbance soon came stomping through the grass. A Black Rhino, a very rare sight stood staring at us. Maybe he wanted to mate with our Toyota Corolla. They’re aggressive animals and as we prepared to leave the lions seemed to do us a favour, despite us ruining their afternoon nap. By holding their ground the Black Rhino knew he was up against it if he came into their territory….and ours! He disappeared into the bushes, much to our relief. Our new friends sat down in the shade again, metres from our car, and kindly posed for photos. Our good relationship didn’t last long unfortunately.

I’d been using a pillow to steady the lens on my camera and when the female stood up unannounced and began walking towards the car I scrambled to wind up the window…we should have upgraded to electric ones I now realised. In the panic I dropped my pillow onto the gravel beside the door. Perfect!

The Lioness stood and stared at me, She seemed a little unsure about the ugly blue and yellow patterned object on the floor but soon settled back down in the shade. This gave me a moment to rescue my pillow in one swift move.

We’d been with Lions for over an hour at this stage and made plans to leave them in peace. Suddenly their heads darted up from their slumber and looked once again into the grass behind them. The Black Rhino was back, standing facing us… The Lions made themselves visible to the huge prehistoric-looking beast and once again they helped us out. Their presence put major doubt in the Rhino’s mind and again, he quickly disappeared into the bushes.

We’d outstayed our welcome and it was time to leave…what a heart-stopping and thrilling afternoon, and we’d been so lucky to watch this all on our own, not one car had come by.”

After this encounter our love for wildlife photography was getting deeper and deeper!

All Images © 2009 Wonky Eye


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