Before embarking on your African safari, be sure to know your Simba facts. We discuss 7 things to keep in mind; that might just save your life.
As South Africans we are truly spoilt with an abundance of wildlife. The world famous Kruger Park with an area of 19 482km² only covers 1,6% of South Africa, yet it is almost the size of Slovenia.
We will soon depart from our mother continent Africa and if our plans work out, will likely not return for quite a while. As we are preparing for our new lives as long-term travellers, we want to share some of what we have learnt over the years.
#1 Take warnings seriously
This might sound like a no-brainer, but the warnings about not getting out of your vehicle (and all the other obvious warnings and instructions) should actually be taken seriously. After all, they are not meant to deprive you of having fun but rather to keep you safe. If you think otherwise, just Google “tourist mauled by lion” …… okay, now you’ve got it.
A male lion gorges itself and can eat up to 30kg in a single sitting. So if you’re a scrawny tourist of around 60kg, two of these guys can finish you off in one go, designer safari suit and all.
#2 Always have your camera ready (and wear running shoes)
Photographers, especially wildlife buffs, know that they should always have their camera ready. If you are on foot and see something like this, it will probably be your last photograph, so make sure it’s a good one for that legacy.
In case you don’t want to stand your ground for that last photograph, make sure your running shoes are laced up properly. Simba can reach a speed of 80km/h albeit for a short burst. To put that into perspective, Usain Bolt runs the 100m in 9,58s and Simba does it in about 4,5s!
I know you cannot outrun a lion. But you don’t have to – you just need to outrun the guy next to you!
#3 You’re not an elephant
Lion procreation is a serious affair and even a full-grown elephant will think carefully before interfering.
The pride male(s) has earned the right to mate with a lioness in heat, and he will fiercely protect this right. Once the lioness is ready for mating, they are at it every 20 minutes (on average) for up to 5 days.
So rather keep your distance and give Simba some privacy.
#4 You’re not a buffalo either
Everybody knows that Simba is the undisputed king of the jungle. Unless you are a Cape buffalo, with back-up!
The Cape buffalo stands 1,7m high at the shoulder and savannah-type bulls can reach a weight of 1 000kg. Add to that a speed of 55km/h and the fact that they have absolutely no sense of humour, you can understand how a handful of grumpy bulls can trample Simba’s ego.
#5 Hunger trumps fear
Now just before you start getting ideas about playing buffalo, remember that Simba’s hunger trumps his fear.
Lions can go without eating for several days, especially after a large kill and proper gorge. But when that hunger pains kick in even the fearsome buffalo is on the menu.
#6 Stay in, not on, your vehicle
Don’t get out of your car. And no, climbing on the roof of your rental 4×4 safari vehicle is no good either.
Simba can jump almost 3,5m high as opposed to the Land Rover in the picture at about 2,3m.
#7 No, they don’t all look alike
After a good meal, the entire pride will seek out a shady spot and sleep for the rest of the day. In fact, lions sleep between 15 and 20 hours a day! And when they are sleeping off a good meal they are not bothered with anything or anyone.
But beware the nomads. At the age of three a male is kicked out of the pride and becomes a nomad, roaming and hunting in anticipation of his sexual maturity at about the age of five.
So, be alert (Africa needs more lerts)
“An optimist is someone who gets treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery” – Walter Winchell
Tell me about your experience with lions, I would love to hear your story, serious or tongue in cheek.