Namibia Scientific Society events 31 May + 2 JuneMay 26, 2016
The AfriCat Foundation – Conservation through educationMay 30, 2016
THE BAOBAB-LION DEBACLE
Text and photos Sean McCulloch
W aking up to the deep grunt of a Hippo no further than 20 meters away from where we had set up camp along the banks of the Okavango River is a feeling only true Namibian adventurers will have experienced.
After our early wake-up call it wasn’t more than 10 minutes until we found ourselves (myself and three very close friends) seated in our 4×4 bakkie with a flask full of hot campfire coffee, rusks and copious amounts of excitement, ready for our next destination, Mahango National Park.
The incredible sightings of herds of buffalo (a personal favourite), roan and sable roaming wild was amazing, not to mention the abundance of bird life. We came to a halt every few seconds to appreciate the wildlife in the park.
Driving around enjoying the sightings, our interest was suddenly drawn to a truly massive baobab tree which had somehow fallen over onto its side. This intriguing phenomenon called for closer inspection! We approached the tree with caution, remembering that we were now on foot in a place that is teeming with wild animals. After climbing onto the tree and taking a few group photos we made our way along the tree to the end where the massive roots reached almost 10 meters into the air. This is where events suddenly took an unexpected turn.
A moment later a deep, hair-raising roar filled the air causing an immediate halt to our jovial conversation. It sounded like it came from the other side of the tree. The first thought that came to mind…LION! Chaos ensued and it seemed that we all had the flight, not fight, instinct. Everyone seemed to have the same thought process; if I run faster than the person next to me I won’t be eaten. Good etiquette of men first making sure the women were safe was certainly not present at the time. I don’t think my flip-flops were designed for such high speed running.
After we made it rather swiftly to the safety of the car, winding all windows up and catching our breath, we started debating as to what had just happened. I proclaimed, “It was definitely a lion”. Only to be met by Karin insisting “No no, it was definitely a leopard”. This debate, being only speculation due to no sound sighting, kept up for quite some time. Laughter and jokes ensued, especially after Abe suggested that it could have been the bark of an impala ram, not a meat eating predator.
To this day we still do not know what animal was responsible for the chilling roar that gave us the fright of our lives, but it certainly provides for a great entertaining story around the fire, coupled with many laughs. What will forever be known as “The baobab-lion debacle” amongst our group of friends contributed to a great experience touring some of the most beautiful places in Namibia; the Okavango River and Mahango National Park.