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Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Africa Geographic Travel
© Norman Chauke

SPONSORED CONTENT By Norman Chauke, EcoTraining

Never leave any items unattended when living in an unfenced camp. Always make sure everything is put away to avoid attracting unnecessary attention to your possessions.

During the initial induction process, when students first arrive at one of the EcoTraining camps, they are often warned about the dangers of leaving items outside of their tents.  Where the items concerned are shoes, the risks are obvious. Scorpions and spiders happily make themselves at home inside shoes, and if one is not careful when putting them back on, one might be in for a nasty surprise.

However, given that EcoTraining’s camps are unfenced in big game wilderness areas, there are more than scorpions and spiders to look out for. This story began when the back-up students went to check the camp’s water pipes to see if the elephants caused any damage. On their way back to camp, they noticed that there was a pride of five lions only 100m from camp.  As soon as the news broke, everyone immediately left what they were busy with, and the excited students and staff took the game viewers to get a closer look at the pride. After a few minutes, the lions got up and started walking towards the camp, and the group quickly realized that they would be able to get a good view from Norman’s (EcoTraining Instructor) tent located on the eastern side of camp.

© Norman Chauke

From the tent, the group was able to observe the lions laying on a rock in the riverbed. One sub-adult lioness was particularly playful, and after an unsuccessful attempt to practice her hunting skills, she decided to explore her surroundings and came up to the camp, toward Norman’s tent. Earlier that morning, Norman had led a group of students on a three-hour bushwalk. Upon his return to camp, he had taken off his shoes and left them outside his tent to air out, completely forgetting that they were there.

© Norman Chauke

The realization came too late, and the young lioness arrived, initially focusing her attention on a chair and using her massive paws to play with it. After knocking it over, she grew bored of the game and set her sights on Norman’s shoes lying nearby. She picked one up and ran off with it.  Like any other young cat, lions enjoy chewing and licking different objects – not unlike a human child that is teething and learning about their environment.

Africa Geographic Travel

After having plenty of fun with Norman’s shoe, she came back to the tent to see what other fun toys had been left around. She found a welcome mat at the tent’s door, but after taking it down to the riverbed to show the other lions, it was abandoned.

© Norman Chauke

The lioness came back to the tent one final time. To her great delight, she noticed that there was another shoe for her to play with.  She took it back to the rock in the riverbed, but an older lioness decided that it was time to move on and the shoe was abandoned.

One shoe was recovered the following morning, covered in bite marks and lion saliva with torn shoelaces, but even after tracking the lions on foot for 5km and finding them relaxed in the shade, the other shoe had vanished for good.

© Norman Chauke
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EcoTraining is a passionate environmentally-conscious company specialising in the training of nature-guides and those with a deep appreciation of the natural world. We provide participants on our courses with amazing life-changing experiences. Courses are run in simple unfenced bush camps.