Later added edit: this experience was the one of the best experiences of my life. I have always had an interest in wildlife and conservation, but this really sparked my interest in Lions and protecting them. I have since been researching and even though I did love it with greater knowledge, I wouldn’t advice walking or petting lions and I won’t be doing it again. Although I feel the owner was genuinely passionate about lions and assured good intentions (I know of the wildlife reserves were some of his lions go); there are a lot of places in South Africa that breed and sell lions for canned hunting and you don’t know who! Also I feel the conservation of lions should be spend protecting the wild lions and their habitat…not breeding tame lions.
I was toying with the idea of taking the post down as not to encourage, but I thought I would leave it with the above message in the hope that if people were researching somewhere to visit, they would see it.
I am a member of born free, if you are interested in the conservation of lions…rather visit and donate via the membership page. Also my daughter has adopted a lion called sinbad in which she recieved an adoption pack and a cuddly toy, which is a really sweet gift and way to interest the next generation in wildlife conservation – adoption page
We arrived about 30 minutes early so we was able to sit around the grounds and take in the surroundings. We watched the giraffes running through the field opposite when a sudden downpour set in. Eva made friends with the resident pooches – She has her mind set on getting an Italian Greyhound now (and so do I). When the other people arrived we were fed and watered, I decided to get into the lion frame of mind and picked a boneless rib burger.
There is only one tour a day and the groups are kept very small as to keep the afternoon relaxed. You don’t have to fight and push to get near any of the animals or take photos and obviously that wouldn’t be very nice for the animals either.
The farm is run by the MacRae family and after lunch Collin began the tour with a brief lecture on the behaviour of lions and their own initiatives. He explained the rapid decline of African Lions over the last 20 years. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it was roughly over 200,000 to 25,000 today. He said it’s down to a number of things, but a mixture of disease and apparently some people in China believe lion bones to be an aphrodisiac – these majestic creatures are hunted for a phony medicine. Makes me so incredibly angry!
The MacRae family are breeding Lions at the moment for educational purposes and produce just a handful of cubs each year. They pass the lions onto small nature reserves when they are between 1-3 years old (they wouldn’t survive in the wild). They are living in their natural habitats, but can be observed. When the lions produce cubs, those offspring will be released into the wild – They call it a 2 step program.
Then it was time to start our lion walk up to the dam (Eva couldn’t join us on this part)…
One of the resident pooches decided to join us
The strict lion handler
These young lions were already displaying natural behaviours within play. They would sneak behind you and hide behind the grass…
They would stop for a climb…
Pose beautifully (I am sure they know how cute they are)…
They were taken back to their pen and we went to watch feeding time with the bigger lions. The lions below finished the lion walks two days prior to us visiting, I can see why they are getting slightly on the big side now.
Then it was time to visit the babies, which Eva could join us on. I get butterflies every time I look at these photos.
If you haven’t been overloaded by enough cuteness, this just might do it for you…
Yep, I know right! The farm also features a mob of meerkats (that is actually the name of a meekat family). Also one tame fella called Sir Alex that Eva took a liking to and proceeded to boss around…We finished off with a snake demonstration – just call me Delilah. Although this particular snake couldn’t get away from me fast enough – meh i’ve held bigger! I didn’t realise that snakes could have attachments to individuals, all he wanted is for Colin to hold him.