If you live in a Southern African town or city, chances are you’ve got a nature reserve nearby. In the case of Port Elizabeth, you’re just an hour’s drive away from Addo Elephant National Park, a huge protected area that has wild elephants, rhinos, buffalo, kudu, hartebeest, zebra, warthog, spotted hyena…and LIONS! Just a few kilometres from the main national N2 road.
I spent the day in Port Elizabeth yesterday, seeing my partners Goodyear (who have their head office there), and also giving a talk at Cape Union Mart about Year in the Wild, and South Africa’s amazing biodiversity and protected areas.
I drove back last night at about 9pm, and within an hour I was back at Addo, lying in my bed, listening to lions roaring. How many places in the world can you drive an hour from a major city, and hear wild lions cracking the silence of the night with their booming artillery?! In fact, they’ve been roaring every night this week, both in the evening and the morning. But I had yet to see them…until this morning.
River Bend Lodge is a private concession in the north of Addo’s main section, and I had heard that the lions make a regular appearance in that area, so I went over for a game drive this morning with guides Eve Wood-Hill and Steve Meihuizen.
Well, we didn’t have to wait long – we were treated to a good sighting of two males and a female. These are the offspring of the lions which were originally transferred from Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that straddles South Africa and Bostwana. The males have the characteristic black manes, while the female is huge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a massive lioness.
These three lions are apparently habituated to Steve and his vehicle, so guests can get really close to them. The lions were very relaxed when we saw them today – in fact, if you know anything about lions, they spend most of the day snoozing, so I felt lucky to get these photos below.
I’m heading back to River Bend tomorrow to try find the lions again, and hopefully get some better light. But wow, just seeing lions again is so good for my soul! I hadn’t realised how much I had missed their presence. And the best thing of all is that they are on our doorstep. Long may their roaring last! (They’re roaring now, as I write this…keep it up my brothers!)
For more, go to www.yearinthewild.com and www.facebook.com/yearinthewild. Check out my Flickr photos at www.flickr.com/scottnramsay and my Instagram photos at www.instagram.com/wildscotty. Twitter on www.twitter.com/yearinthewild.
Conservation partners BirdLife South Africa, Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, CapeNature, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Gorongosa National Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.