Weekly photo challenge: Reflection

Youngster in the Chudop pride, Etosha National Park

I do love the lions!

When I traveled to Africa for the first time, I thought that I would tick off the animals in the mammals book as I saw them and that would be it.

Been there, done that, seen it.

(That was in short how the whole Africa experience was supposed to be. I never meant to stay here, for crying out loud! I was just going to do some fieldwork and get on with life.)

Apparently, it doesn’t work like that. Not for me, anyway.

A student and I was sitting watching a pride of lions in Etosha national park some months ago. She asked me how many lions I thought I had seen up to now.

Since we were anyway sitting there, watching cats, I tried to count. I stopped when I got to 300.

I’ve seen prides come and go. I’ve watched how old males have lost the battle and his pride to cheeky youngsters. I’ve seen tiny, meowing cubs grow into large predators with paws the size of a dinner plates and teeth the size of my thumb. And with a roar that can be heard many kilometers away. Where did the cute furry pet go, I wonder, when I hunch next to a sleeping beauty, doing measures and taking notes, while the smell of rotten meat and cat pee tickle my nose.

Don’t you get sick and tired of them? the student asked. And the simple answer is: No.

Apparently not.

And to think that I used to be a dog person.


5 thoughts on “Weekly photo challenge: Reflection

  1. What an awesome photo. What do you do in Africa? Field work? Are you a naturalist, scientist? By the way, I have to laugh not at your photo, but at its majesty compared to a photo of a fox I took today that appeared behind out house. I was so excited about it as that’s about as wild as my neck of the woods gets. Oh, and I am thinking based on the fox’s appearance and where she was standing, her den may be nearby, like right behind out house. I am so excited and terrified of disturbing her. Good thing it’s still cold here so we’re not outside yet.

    300 lions…wow!

    best regards,

    1. What am I not? I’m a naturalist, scientist, consultant, writer, researcher, farmer, mid-wife, psychologist, marriage councilor, nurse, boss, housewife, orchidist, reader and hobby photographer. And probably something more as well, but I can’t remember.
      I’m a human geographer by profession, so I’m really a social scientist, but I’ve always been balancing on the edge dividing the social sciences from biology and ecology. I was pulled into carnivore research and work because I ended up being more interested wildlife than people. I find the human-wildlife conflicts incredibly challenging and interesting.

      I still do some geography. I take students on excursions, for instance, and give them an introduction in what it’s like to do fieldwork abroad, in a foreign country.
      When I’m not in the bush, I live on a farm. I’m a somewhat reluctant farmer; I love living so close to nature and wake up every morning and look out of the window, but I’m not a natural, not at all. And a lot of the farming business just does not come naturally to me. Still not, after all these years…

    2. By the way, foxes should not be under-estimated. If I see any kind of wildlife at all when I’m visiting my parents, I’m just as excited as you are.
      And you know, ten years…and I’m still totally amazed of the life on the savanna and can sit for hours and watch antelopes and birds, so it’s just how we are. For some of us, animals are exciting, almost no matter what they are.

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