A tame lion: a Kenyan tale

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A tale told to me by a friend while enjoying a drink at a campfire in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. As lions are among our favourite animals, this short story stuck in my mind. I hope you enjoy it!

I believe that the event took place in the 50s. There was either a farmer or a game warden that resided at a camp in the Athi plains, a few kilometres from Nairobi. Somehow he had acquired a lion cub that he raised to become, as usual, a rather large and potentially dangerous male lion that lived with him and his workers at his camp.

He was well known in Nairobi as he came to get his provisions from the duka (store in KiSwahili), leaving the lion tied up in the back of his truck. This was rather unusual at the time and therefore it attracted some curiosity among shoppers!

For some reason, on this particular occasion he came to Nairobi with a loaded truck and he was forced to leave his lion at camp, together with his camp staff. The jobs he needed to do that day took him longer than he anticipated so he left late and it was dark when he got back to his camp.

It was the norm that his vehicle lights would warn the camp of his imminent arrival and people would be waiting for him to report on the events of the day and help him to unload. The camp was by the river and he could see it from above just before he came down to it. The camp appeared deserted. He slowed down and had a good look, still nothing. “This is odd” he thought and then caught a slight movement with the corner of his eye. A male lion was trotting towards the bush and it was not his!

It was not rare that lions “visited” his camp so he moved on, while keeping an eye on the situation. He regretted leaving his rifle behind! After making sure that there were no more lions in camp by using the car’s headlights, he decided to get out of the car. Being cautious, before he entered the camp, he called his staff but no one replied. After waiting for a while in the dark, he carefully walked to his staff quarters. There was no one there either! He then decided to fetch his hunting gun from his tent.

The tent was zipped up. He unzipped it as gently as possible, and put the light on. He could not believe what he saw! All his workers were there; looking rather frightened and, also with them was the lion, looking equally terrified and shaky!



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