‘A story with no ending – African lion cub’
Pastel - drawing on Supertooth paper 86 x 59cm
This story has no ending.
It is a real story based on actual events but has no obvious conclusion. I needed to share it with you since that way at least it will have some meaning.
The tiny lion cub shown clinging precariously to its fallen log perch is real. He is around 10 weeks old. He lived in Northern Kruger national park.
I had by chance happened upon this little guy one afternoon, crouching among dry grass in a feeble attempt to hide. He was alone and very upset. It took a few minutes to ascertain that he was indeed alone and apparently deserted by the rest of his pride. Lion cubs often get left behind by the pride and this one was obviously feeling extremely vulnerable as a young unprotected cub is under serious threat from most of Africa’s carnivores and also buffalo who love nothing better than crushing young lions. I photographed and observed him for quite a long time but there were no calls from other lions and prospects for the return of the pride looked slim.
The following day at around sunset I ventured down that same road and found him not far away, clinging atop a dead log, high and exposed. Presumably he hoped to catch sight of his pride from this vantage point but his position virtually guaranteed a predator would detect him unless his family returned.
I watched as dusk approached and the light faded….the time of predators was fast approaching. A 4FWD jeep pulled up next to my vehicle and an older man in senior ranger uniform took a long, hard look at the lion cub and its surroundings.
After a few minutes in quiet contemplation the driver wound down his window and spoke quietly to me, asking if I had been watching the cub. He also had been keeping an eye on him for two days and as he talked quietly with me this very senior ranger began to cry. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he told me how under park regulations he was not permitted to save the life of this tiny cub. He told me how at times like this he hated the job that forced him to turn away when every fibre of his humanity was telling him to save that small cub. He knew as I do that African lions are now a threatened species and may face extinction in the wild in 10-15 years. He knew it could be easily rescued and probably reintroduced to a safe wild situation in later life. At the very least its genetics could be preserved in a captive situation. He knew this but mindless bureaucracy decreed the cub should die if its pride did not return. After 2 days alone and extremely dehydrated, its prospects seemed bleak indeed. As darkness descended we quietly bid farewell to each other and to the little lion…alone on its log…and we prayed it would be safe. Next morning the cub was gone.
The mindless bureaucracy in charge of a closely managed national park like Kruger that decrees ‘no interference’ to aid a threatened individual animal when the entire park is set up, managed, controlled, contrived and run precisely so people can move around interfering in vehicles seems puzzling in the extreme.
To my mind it is time we had a new and better paradigm for conscientious stewardship of nature…..one where heart and soul connection have an equal part to play along with academic concerns. We are human and after all are really just other animals…we are not apart from nature…we are intricately connected. What we do to nature we do to ourselves.
So my point is this. People always ask me ‘What can I do?’ Well any study of ecology shows us that life does not come with an ‘opt out’ clause. We live in a world of cause and effect. We must all make choices…..yes or no…. do or don’t. Now I want to ask all of you and in turn you to ask all of your friends the same question……
Do you care or don’t you?….Will you do something or won’t you?