This morning’s game drive was certainly one of the most emotional drives I have had since I started doing this. It all started well with a few buffalo and a lovely sighting of five lionesses sleeping next to a dam. Not long after I joined the lion sighting one of the other rangers called in some leopards just to the west of us. Full of excitement I put myself in the line up. Leopard was the only animal my guest hadn’t seen and seeing that it was the female with the three cubs, I just had to go.
By the time I left the lions the three leopard cubs decided to wonder away from the mom and straight towards the five lionesses. We all knew what would happen if the lions saw the three cubs. Lions see leopard as competition and would not hesitate to kill them.
At that moment a million questions rushed through my mind. Do you interfere or not? A question that’s haunted many guides for years. Must we interfere and save the cubs we’ve grown so fond of over the last few weeks or do you let nature take its course? Isn’t it survival of the fittest out here? So many questions, so little answers.
At that point I decided to move out of the sighting. Maybe because I didn’t want to see what was going to happen or maybe I just didn’t want to make that choice of interfering or not. Unfortunately as I started driving away the one cub ran towards the road. I saw the three lionesses behind it. Before we knew it the inevitable happened and they got hold of the little one. I immediately stopped, realizing that nothing I would do could save the leopard cub.
I drove off shaking in my seat and as I informed the other rangers of what happened the tears started rolling down my face. There I was, maybe not so big and strong but still a ranger in the African bush weeping like a child in front of my guests. Are rangers allowed to cry? More questions….. Did I do the right thing? I guess I’ll never figure it out. It’s a personal battle that a lot of us will have to face one time or another. Well I cried and I will probably cry again. My heart goes out to each and every ranger that’s ever faced with these questions.