Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Where The Wild 'Things' Really Are 'Wild', In South Africa!

Marla Sink Druzgalby Marla Sink Druzgal

When lions woke me in the middle of the night, I thought someone in a nearby room was snoring…loudly. It was our first night in South Africa, and we were staying in a guest house outside the capital city of Pretoria. Snoring seemed a perfectly logical conclusion for what I was hearing. We weren’t living in a national park, and we had done our research before moving: there are no longer free-roaming lions in South Africa.

But the “snoring” continued each night at regular intervals: midnight; three a.m.; six a.m. By the time the manager asked if we had heard the lions, I had already figured it out: the gated community in which we were staying is adjacent to a game reserve, which have a pride of lion.

We now have a house in that same community, and depending on the time of year, we hear them roar a few times each night.

When I would write family and friends about our nighttime serenade, I would quickly have to remind them that we’re safe, that those lion are no more a threat to us than if we were living near a zoo. But they were no sooner placated by this than I would excitedly announce that cat tracks were sighted at my husband’s worksite in Mpumalanga Province. Workers had a debate on whether the tracks belonged to a serval or a leopard, both still free-roaming predators in the country. While they concluded the tracks belonged to the more common (and smaller) serval, not a leopard, it caused excitement among those we told that it could even be possible to still encounter a wild leopard in South Africa...

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