King of the Jungle
About a year and a half ago, my husband and I traveled to South Africa for a Dixieland Jazz cruise on a German ship. Our 100-125 travelers were the only English speaking
people aboard. Germans are very serious, seldom smile, and seemed to look down on our smiling faces. They stared at us as we laughed and danced. Each evening our band performed in a private party that ended up not so private. By the end of the cruise, our patrons fought to find a seat in the small room, by then filled with Germans.
Once a night we held court in the theatre where the band played on one half of the stage and dancers filled the other half. By the last night, the theatre was pretty well filled with many German travelers as well as our group. The Germans danced very straight and proper. On the last night we always celebrate with the Cake Walk. We dance to the beat down the aisles and through the seats waving umbrellas or hankies/napkins. Many of us urged the Germans to join in. Surprisingly, some did. It was a wonderful evening where Americans and Germans smiled at each other overriding the language barrier.
Getting to Capetown and the return were not my idea of fun – two flights to Frankfurt, an overnight stay, and two flights to Capetown. Then we repeated the process for our return. Once we arrived in Capetown, we thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
For the next few columns, I’d like to take you on our one day Safari. I’ll share the information I gathered as well as that taught by the Ranger who drove us through the area.
You probably know a lion as “King of the Jungle.” However, did you know there are four other animals hunters consider as dangerous and hard to hunt? They call them “The Big Five.” In South Africa, you can see them all – lion, elephant, leopard, black rhino and cape buffalo – at Kariega Private Game Reserve. As our ten passenger safari truck turned a corner on the dirt path, a lion crested a small rise. He surveyed his surroundings and lay down.
The ranger parked about 30 feet away. “Don’t be fooled by the calmness of this lion,” the ranger said. “All his 300 pounds could land in our truck in six seconds.”
Later, the lion sauntered back down the rise and joined his brother in the shade of a tree.
Lions form prides or family groups ruled by one male lion. They live in savannas, grasslands, dense bush, or woodlands. Females, their cubs, and two or three brothers make up the pride.
When a young male fights and kills the reigning lion, he takes over the pride. He may also kill the cubs of the dead lion and sire his own cubs.
Several females often give birth about the same time to litters of one to six cubs each. The mothers share nursing responsibilities.
Cubs learn to hunt and roar by the age of two. In five or six years, their roars can be heard almost 5 miles away. Lions may go without water for three to five days, but they drink daily if possible.
Although both genders kill, the male protects the cubs and the pride. His mates hunt in groups and provide more than half their food. The ranger said, “It takes five or six lions to take down a giraffe.”
As the pride leader ages, younger lions attempt to take over. Hunters stalked lions for their skin, magical powers, and as trophies representing strength, pride, and loyalty.
Lions live only thirteen years.
Although lions are the ultimate killing machines and the kings over all beasts, they show affection by rubbing heads, touching or licking each other, and purring. At times they seem as playful as your kitten.