Driving along the Garden Route in South Africa, we stopped in Mossel Bay to Walk with Lions at Zorgfontein’s Walking With Lions Project. Zorgfontein Eco And Wildlife Reserve is located at Great Brak River, about a half hour drive outside Mossel Bay.
The Lions were saved from potential canned-lion hunting programs and were hand raised. Since the lions were captive-bred, and their mothers were raised in captivity, they could not be released into the wild as they have the instinct but not the skills for survival.
You may have seen Lions on safari, but nothing is quite like taking a walk with lions.
The walks are strictly controlled and petting the Lions is not allowed, except when instructed it is okay. Getting to ‘roam’ with the beautiful, proud lions in their natural environment is such a privilege. You are within their pride as they play stalk each other and witness their action first-hand.
At first it is a little intimidating being in the open with the Lions and only a stick in hand, but as the walk continued we became more confident. It was fun to watch how the Lions interact and play.
Some cool facts we learned about Lions that we did not know before were:
- Males guard the pride’s territory, Females do most of the hunting.
- A Lion’s tongue is enough to take your skin off if it licks you because of the barbs on the tongue. A Lion started licking one the the guys in our walking group and they had the lion stop, but luckily the guy was wearing long pants, too.
- Most lions drink water daily if available, but can go four or five days without it.
- After the kill the males usually eat first, lionesses next, and the cubs get what’s left.
They Lions seemed comfortable around people, but it was definitely better to keep them in sight than to have one behind you. Even though they have been hand reared, at the end of the day they are lions and it is important to be aware of that.
Have you ever walked with lions or any other otherwise dangerous animal? What was your experience like?