Oh What a Night

a Letter written to friends from Grumeti in 2004

Hello All

Can you remember listening to the radio after it was time to go to bed? When all was dark and you had only sound by which to interpret a story? Well, last night I had a radio playing 2 metres from my tent – all night and VERY loudly!

It started with what I thought must be a hippo walking past my tent grazing, until I heard a very low moan, almost missed it and then again……very low. Then panting – whatever was there had exerted itself. Then another low moan which was answered by a chorus of infantile “oowwws!!!”. It was the light lioness, Lightness and her three new cubs. She had stolen a kill from Hyenas and brought it across to the safety of some bushes right next to my tent – perhaps three metres away! And then the show began…….bones crunching, cubs calling and then the arrival of the two dominant males.

It is an interesting experience to be almost on ground level with a male lion facing you, not more than three metres away, and to have him roar directly at you with nothing but a thin piece of gauze between us! The sound hits you in the pit of your stomach.

My ‘blind’ interpretation of events continued as I heard the sound of fleeing hooves coming directly up the path straight towards the feeding lions, there was a huge crash and the sound of an animal being pulled down, groaning, as the lions looked for the second course…. However, whatever it was, presumably a buffalo, managed to escape and I could hear it crashing off through the bush. The lions settled back to feeding with the cubs causing annoyed growling from the males.

Lightness moved to the other side of my tent and I could hear the sounds of contented feeding as the cubs claimed their meal for the evening. Other cast members of the show included trumpeting elephants, hippos, alarming baboons, cackling hyena, and the eerie calls of jackal. However, too much of a good thing can be too good – you know what I mean? By 4am, sleep deprivation set in (have you ever heard how loud bone crunching can be?) and I began to start to think that the lions may be eating Warren, that they may have attacked and killed him when he walked home and that the I was listening to the demise of my assistant……

Thank goodness I eventually just fell asleep, despite the lions best efforts at keeping me awake. This morning, the only traces of my all night show, were pug marks and the stains of the stomach contents of the unfortunate animal that they had eaten last night. Fortunately, it was not Warren.

Love
K

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