30.01.2009 - 30.01.2009
View Zimbabwe (Lion Breeding and Rehabilitation Project) - 19 Jan to 15 Feb 2009 on hilarywh's travel map.
Ishmael a lion handler received a very deep gash to his hand from a lion claw during feeding one day. I was helping him to lob a large leg of cow over the enclosure fence while balanced on the back of the trailer when Echo and Etosha leapt up to meet us, catching Ishmael's hand in the frenzy. The handlers were very worried about the accident and feared they may lose their job or be involved in a lion 'attack' enquiry. It turned out we should have put the lions in the management pen and walked the meat into their enclosure, not throwing it over the top! As expected, the wound became infected and our first aid kits were put to good use. Ishmael has now returned to work and it has healed nicely.
The retired walking lions are regularly taken out on night encounters to encourage them to hunt. They follow the truck full of volunteers and handlers while someone uses a powerful light to spot game for them in the dark. A chase usually ensues, truck after lion, lion after game, and sometimes a kill is made. Unfortunately on that night we came across horses that had clearly got out of their night boma. The handlers leapt off the truck in an instant to distract the lions and attempt to move them back to their enclosure. A very dangerous race through the bush in the dark began with 3 handlers and 3 fully grown hungry lions. One horse suffered massive tears to it's rump in the process. But all ended well, the horse is healing, the handlers were unscathed and the lions ended up in their enclosure. Another night encounter is planned for tonight but this time the horses will be out of harms way!
While riding Checha the male elephant and only recently safe enough to be used for riding, he decided to do the opposite of what he was being told by reversing backwards into an Acacia bush - with me on top!!! My head, back and arms were scratched from the 2 inch thorns but fortunately he stopped before it got too messy!
On one elephant swim, the 2 elephants got very close while playing around in the water. As the handlers attempted to prevent themselves and the volunteers ending up squashed in an elephant sandwich, 2 people got cut by the elephant prodder.
Other than that, no major incidents reported....yet!