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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

With The Big Cats in Namibia - Op-ed


Fri 16 Oct 2020 | 11:15 PM
Hassan El-Khawaga

On a Saturday with Hermina and Carl, Austrian opera singers living in Windhoek, we went together to Amani Game Lodge [Amani in Swahili means peace or harmony and in Arabic means wishes] situated 30 minutes from the Namibian capital at a height of 2000 meters to protect big cats [cheetahs, leopards, and lions], Dr. Hadi el Tonsi, a former ambassador, says.

The Land Rover jeep went up and down rocky hills to take us first to an area surrounded by a low fence to separate us from Cheetahs that you can call "human garden".

As the cheetahs smelling the meat offered by the guards they did start to come running to us, across the hills preceded by eagles looking for food.

The guard waited calmly outside saying: As I give them food they always follow me, they get attracted by my scent. Actually, they can be tamed by me, and even sleep with me in bed every day, and live with me happily, they have beautiful bodies that allow them to run 120/km an hour, but their claws are not strong. You can see them walking around or competing for meat.

Then we went into a wooden balcony to see leopards, which are kept behind fences. It is a solitary shy animal that can run at 145 km/hour. You can see it on the rocks and climbing a tree.

Next there you can see from another wooden balcony the lion and lioness, and the lion alone with a hairstyle looking like made by a hairdresser.

As the guard then explained that the lion scratches his head by thorny trees for his hair to take that form, he added that local people take lions when young to live with them in houses; first, they are harmless if fed, but if left hungry next day your dog may disappear.

Same as the guard went on, as if I keep you starving, at a point you may eat me, and those house lions can't hunt anymore so they have to be fed by the farm that buys for its animals monthly 1.5 tons of meat.

Anyhow, says the guard, that due to the proud leader personality of the lion king, it is not very pleasant to be kept with me at home as sooner or later he will compete for leadership. Well, all that was interesting, but the effect of the rocky hills can still be felt at my backbone 24 hours after the game drive, which means that that memory will stay with me for long.