If a lion puts its tail in a tent…

In the early 1990’s I was training as a guide at a small camp on the edge of the Matusadonna National Park, next to Lake Kariba. Envisage a vista of 6 Tents under Thatch in a ‘V’ formation looking out over Lake Kariba towards the Matusadonna Mountain Range. Very seldom is there a more tranquil setting, with Fish Eagles occasionally calling in the background. This is the backdrop to the arrival of a young English couple who had booked in to our camp for one week on their honeymoon. After a short charter flight from Kariba town to our camp, the clients arrived to see a Landrover fleeing down the Airstrip pursued by an elephant, allowing the plane to land. This was a fairly common occurrence. Following their arrival and a short drive to camp, introductions were made throughout, and a short briefing was given reference camp safety, ie: at night if one wants to go to the toilet after dark, collect an armed guide as Elephants, Buffalo etc roam through camp, alternatively there is a pan under the bed.

Having been informed in advance that the couple was on Honeymoon, a complimentary bottle of Champagne was brought out at dinner, and this became the beginning of a rather good celebration lasting until about 11pm, where we decided that as an early morning walk was on the cards, it was time for bed. The clients had been put in the top tent on the right of camp, my boss in the top tent on the Left, myself the next tent down. With the world spinning I lay on my bed and put a foot on the floor to slow things down, and just as I was dozing off heard a rather trembling call from the English woman saying that something was peeing on their tent. I do admit that I had too much to drink, and there was a strong smell of cat urine in the air, but I really did not comprehend this at the time. I then heard my boss sit up in his stretcher and ask the client if she could see anything, to which the response was negative, he then asked the client to light the candle next to their bed, and I could see the candlelight flicker up under the thatch, again asking if she could see anything, also asking where her husband was. The reply was that nothing was visible, but her husband was lodged solidly under the stretcher.

The comment from my boss was not to worry, but to lie down, keep the candle on and we are only about 30 metres away if any assistance is needed. Not five minutes later there was a squeak and a scared female voice informing us that a Lion was sitting in front of the tent, and moments later informed that the tail has caught up under the tent flap.

At this point I sat up and looked out the back of my tent to see my boss sitting on his bed scratching his head. I could imagine his thoughts, silly clients, too much to drink, and on Honeymoon??? He then responded, saying “Your candle is still lit, so light the Lion’s tail. “

There was an almighty roar as the Lion bolted out of camp, with the smell of singed hair on the night air. I look to see my boss pulling on his shorts with his rifle in hand, and as he steps out of his tent I hear the curse of “Shit there is a Lion”. He rapidly stepped back in to the tent and I hear the call “Are you all right”, and the response “We are fine”. He then said “You will be fine go to sleep the Lion will not come back” The lion roared and performed outside camp until about 4am.

The clients left a week later believing that if a Lion puts its tail in your tent merely light it. We did not want to inform them that we did not believe them at the time.

Just another good African Safari.

 

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