And I'm not referring to the Canadian singer Bryan Adams’ song. No this time it’s a different pair of eyes you’re looking into: the eyes of the notorious Mapogo male lions.
Thick fog and mist made visibility rather difficult on this early morning. The radio cracked out something and we found ourselves heading west- fast! Pieter wasn’t telling us what was going on, nor what we were going too see ... and kept us on the rims of our seats, holding on to the tank as WE flew through the bush! A coalition of five lions had killed a buffalo on a neighbouring farm and had just left the kill to the scavengers. Full-bellied, and with an almost staggering walk, they headed onto Djuma! On arriving close to the sighting, Efraim was already on the lock. We had to wait for a couple of minutes to get a view of the ghosts of Pieter's imagination, who were supposedly 100-odd meters away. When Efraim finally gave Pieter the go ahead to pull into the lock and the fog cleared up before my eyes, I was amazed about where we actually were. And there they were - Mr T and Shaka - or WE thought it was ... appearing like ghosts out of the darkness - one of the best sightings we have ever seen was unfolding right in front of our eyes.
WE enjoyed the scary company of the two Mapogo male lions - when another one came from the north. With a quick face rub he fell down and lay still next to his brothers. After some confusion - Pieter realised that there were more lions not too far away. The Djuma vehicles had all gone off, so there were other lions in the area. WE tracked along through the clearing mist and only then a couple of hundred meters ahead, two other males were also relaxing in the road. Eventually
WE had visual of all five Mapogos, on the road, lying down, really looking great. They are truly big, huge, humongous. Pieter’s description of them as being Spartan warriors is quite accurate. After the game drive ended, I took Sue and Nontlantlha, to go and see the Mapogos for the first time. Using the bubbaloo (which is much smaller than the tank), Pieter guided us in with me driving - "Jan turn off the road, and watch that space ..." the handheld croaked. With hearts beating at a seriously fast pace, a ghostly shape approached us edging closer and closer- slow but focused. With him passing less than a meter from the tiny babbaloo - poor Nonthanthla and Sue moved further away from the lion and on to my lap. The next followed, and one by one they all passed. Looking into their eyes - it’s something I can’t explain - I really just can’t! There is something about these lions, some thing that pushes me away, and makes us all want to run so fast at the sound of their roar, but once WE are with them, you are hypnotised by their immense power, grace and the secrets in their eyes ...
(Written by Jan Harm Robbertse)
On a different note ... there will be no drives on Saturday or Sunday. The reason is that Emily and I are getting married and some of the WE crew are coming to the wedding in Johannesburg. Also, Emily and I will be on honeymoon until the end of March and there will be fewer postings on the Blog. I will try and get the odd one out, but I am sure that you all understand ... it's in your nature.