Sunday, 22 September 2013

Lions feasting on illegal immigrants

Mother Nature can sometimes be a cruel old bitch....

The Kruger National Park comprises an area of some 20 000 square Km.  At its narrowest point it is  50 Km (31mi) wide, and it shares the whole of its eastern border (360 Km) with the neighbouring country of Mozambique.  In the days when the Kaftan fence (a lethal electrified fence between S.A. and Mozambique ) was still on full power, the Kruger Park was the only viable option for illegal immigrants. For fear of electrocuting animals, the fence stopped at the southern border of the Park, to be replaced by very heavy-duty game fencing for the next 360 Km.  The reasoning behind the willingness to kill illegals and spare the wildlife remains open to question.

The only risks in crossing this fence were being cut by the razor blade coils, and receiving a very unpleasant jolt from the non-lethal electric strands.  Once inside the park there were, of course, some other risks.

The modus operandi was to cross the fence at first light and hope to make it to the western fence before darkness without being spotted, trampled, eaten, gored etc.

Early one morning a group of five illegal immigrants did just that.  Unfortunately they chose a cloudy day and, unable to navigate by the sun, got hopelessly lost.

Unbeknown to them they were less than thirty yards from a major tourist road when they encountered a pride of lions at dusk.  Not that it would have been of any help, because tourists are confined to the rest camps from dusk till dawn.

The lions singled out one man and brought him down with ease.  There were no trees of any real substance in the vicinity, and the remaining four scrambled up the nearest tree which was only about four metres high.

By the time the pride had consumed their friend it was fully dark, and they couldn’t see the pride sauntering over to their tree, but they could surely hear them. One of the lions scrambled up the trunk and hooked another illegal to the ground.  Contrary to popular belief, lions can climb trees to a certain extent.  They don’t like to, but they can if they have to.

The man was killed and consumed directly beneath his comrades, who were desperately trying to get out of reach on the thinner branches.

All to no avail.  During the course of what must have been a very, very long night to the sole survivor the lions would finish one off and rake down another screaming victim.

By the time the first tourists spotted the lone man gibbering in the tree, the sated lions were long gone, and the hyenas and jackals had moved in, squabbling over the remains.

I have no idea what eventually happened to the man after deportation, but I’m sure that, even after all these years, he still wakes up screaming.

I know;  I’ve been there.  Years after this incident I was also targeted as a meal.  Words are inadequate to describe the feeling – but that’s another story for another time.
By the same author:
The Sam Jenkins trilogy:  Poacher,    Cheetah in the Rain,   Fighting AIDS
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