We are in the middle of “Simba Hell.”

“What are we doing here?”  As much as I want to get this safari over, this is not the plan. We are here to capture not kill. If we actually encounter the lions in these conditions, I’m sure that they will not run from us. They are not scared of man. I am certain they’d run at us. No time for dart guns and sedation, only the time to save ourselves. I am really hoping for no lions, just evidence that they are near-by. “You know, it could be a pride of different lions, not the man-eaters,” I answer myself. “God protect us!” I nod to Makali and we start forward, three abreast.

Crouching low, we move slowly, slowly forward. After about 5 yards, Makali halts us again. We fall to one knee. In a slight whisper, “Bwana, me crawl forward alone. Me get close so can see in shadows. Stay, Bwana.”

“Take my ‘binocs’ for a good look. Careful. Whistle and we’ll move forward.”

Makali puts the binocular strap over his head and lowers to a prone position. He cradles his rifle over his out stretched arms and moves silently forward. After about 4 yards he disappears into the grass. Benjamin and I stay kneeled, silent, and ready.

One minute, three minutes, five minutes. My “rhino” knee is aching, I have to adjust my position. I look at my watch. It has now been seven minutes. Seven anxious minutes, listening for sounds, watching for movements up ahead, and hoping for Makali’s whistle that all is safe. Nothing so far. In the distance I hear the song of robins and warblers. The wind seems to be swirling now. This could be very bad! Ten minutes. Nothing. Suddenly a sound of swift movement in the grass behind us. I turn, raising my rifle….

 

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