There is always a need to be aware of your surroundings at Duba Plains – even when you’re in camp.
As observers of nature and its wildlife we watch the events and lives unfold on the stage that has been set thousands of years ago. We are watching from the audience perspective, sometimes from backstage, but we are never on the stage itself. The stage is reserved for those who tell their stories of instinct, survival and family. It is a true mix of comedy & tragedy, drama & passion.
Their stories are ever changing, always developing and building an intricate network of relationships and a rich history. Adding to the intrigue and drama on the Duba stage and its current ongoing narrative, there had been recent sightings of two young males that have not been seen in this area before.
A herd of buffalo had been hanging around camp for the last week and we know they can sometimes attract the big cats to camp. Our concession manager Pete, who operates from Maun, was in camp during this time for a visit. One particular night after our guests had finished dinner and had retired to their tents Pete, Hennie (Back of House Manager), Pickard (Chef) & I were walking back to our tents on the pathway past the guest tents. We came across some buffalo and safely navigated our way around them. We were just thinking we were in the clear, when Pete –who was in the lead – suddenly came to a halt.
His voice came softly in the dark. “Oh bugger.. Is that a leopard or a lion?”
I was bringing up the rear and couldn’t see what he was referring to, but I didn’t need to. Hennie and Pickard confirmed that it was a lion lying on the ground at the pathway entrance to room four. It was a young male, his mane just barely visible in the brief beam of the flashlight & added moonlight. It was later established that it was one of the mysterious visitors recently spotted around camp.
Aware of our presence, it got up and crossed the pathway into the bushes, away from the guest tents. We slowly backed away and dodged the now obscured buffalo again to get back to the office.
It is in moments like these when we realize again how important it is to be continuously aware that we are living on their turf and on their terms. It is a humbling and overwhelming feeling that brings you closer to understanding vulnerability and their everyday, incessant battle to survive.