Saturday, October 13, 2012
Because most of the visitors to Zimbabwe visit the Victoria Falls area, the animal rescue organizations are centered here where they can take advantage of the tourist's dollars. We visited 3 such groups today, and every one was run by truly dedicated Zimbabweans, who battle so many odds to change the direction of animal declination in this very poor country, and all of Africa. They get no help from their own country that cannot even help their own people, yet they are tirelessly educating themselves and the public to save these wonderful animals now. So many of my friends and family are passionet about the same thing, and they would so love these places,as we did. One place we went to was the "lion walk". This is a new approach and needed because donations are spread so thin amongst the animal organizations, and this novel idea is bringing in money to keep lions alive,not just in Zimbabwe, but all of Africa. We literally paid to "walk with lions". Some of these lions were orphaned, some were bred to keep the gene pool healthy. The program has stages and the first stage the lion is very young and learning to be in a pride. After this stage they will be taken from humans forever and returned to areas where they will be free to be lions! They are only socialized a little, so they can be with us...and while they are young. The lions we walked with were about 15 months old. Old enough to still be dangerous, and we had to abide by rules...ie, body positioning, body placement (ours!..never trigger the prey chase! Duh!) use of sticks. It was quite a thrill and Steve was in heaven with his favorite animal. The pictures do not do it justice, and I have a wonderful video of us actually walking with these guys and doing it right. These lions are allowed to hunt their own food naturally, if prey enters their territory. They are not "tamed", or trained in anyway. They would take off on their own, and we would run to follow. It was their way or no way! Hmmmmmm, no wonder Steve liked it!