Walking with lions…in Mauritius

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When you think about Mauritius, author Mark Twain’s rendering that “God created Mauritius first and then heaven” comes to mind. In other words, it’s more about kicking back and sipping piña coladas on shiny, golden beaches in paradisal surroundings in the minds of tourists than anything else.

But Mauritius’ touristic offering is becoming increasingly diverse and the island is starting to make more of a splash around the fact that it is – if not physically – a part of Africa.

So parks such as Casela Nature & Leisure Park, in the south of Mauritius, are offering a little dose of Africa in and around the island’s natural beauty.

As such, when I got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a stroll with Zaza and Mapara last weekend, I jumped at the chance.

Walk with lions

With my heart beating rapidly, flanked by a trickle of minders and just a stick between me and 120 kilos of lion, I walked alongside two-year-old, 2.4-metres-tall Zaza. As I cautiously patted her on the back, buoyed by our guide, Jim, what a sight it was!

Together with a group of international tourists, who travelled from as far as China to meet, touch and walk with Zaza, from the Timbavati region of South Africa, and 11-month-old Mauritian-born Mapara, we stopped and – eyes agaze – watched as the two lions exercised and jumped 10 feet-high in the air to trap their dinner. It was a jaw-dropping sight – all within a couple of metres from us.

Once the lions are three years old, they will get to live and roam at the back of the park in their natural habitat. Until then they can feast on two dinners of 25kg-a-week – much more than they would be able to find in the wild.

It was a special, unforgettable morning – and one that many of the nearly 1m tourists who flock to ‘Paradise Island’ every year should check out.

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About emerge28

I travel the world, promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) into emerging nations via country branding reports within international media. The aim of my blog is to document some of the amazing places I travel to, the inspiring people I meet and chart how the world is changing, with power and growth moving east and south.
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7 Responses to Walking with lions…in Mauritius

  1. cvoets says:

    Walking with Lions is a big contributor to the “canned lion hunting” business, a shameful practice. While it may seem to be rewarding to humans to feel as one when walking side-by-side with these majestic animals, we must surely realize that these animals belong in the wild and will NEVER be able to back to that world once they have become used to humans as they do here? I respectfully ask you to inform yourselves on canned lion hunting, and how it starts, by logging onto http://www.cannedlion.org. Thank you

  2. The Global March For Lions, http://www.globalmarch4lions.org, took place on March 15, 2014 in over 60 countries around the world to speak up against canned lion hunting and this type of interaction with Lions, as they are linked.
    I also encourage you to check out http://www.lionaid.org/ for valuable information on the overall state of Lions and the consequences of this industry. Thanks for your time.

  3. That white lion belongs in the Timbavati. And should be able to roam free to hunt in the wild. It is not better to be fed well in a prison… than it is to be free in nature. All lions in captivity suffer and most of them will be shot eventually. We should rather appreciate seeing lions free in their natural habitat. Please help us rather inform tourist of the unfairness of petting cubs and of walking with lions, as it will end for that lion in tragedy. It will become a trophy on someones wall…. please look at the website of http://www.cannedlion.org to see about the canned lion industry and Global White Lion Protection Trust to learn more about the protection of the White Lions. Veronica Coetzer

  4. Brigid Braun says:

    I have never seen lions in the wild. But, I would rather never have that experience, than ‘walking with lions’ which is a completely unnatural experience. The cycle starts with cub petting then ‘progresses’ to walking with lions. When they are too big for that, then they go into canned hunting. They can never be set free because they’ve imprinted with humans and can’t fend for themselves. Please do not continue with this practice – it is a death sentence to the lions.

  5. Paul Tully says:

    Please rethink posting, advertising & visiting such places where this level of interaction with lions & wildlife is offered.
    The breeding & exploitation of lions in South Africa is a major issue involving cruelty and deceipt over tourists, volunteers and public.
    The breeding, taming and use of lions in this manner is not conservation.
    Thank you for understanding in this issue.

  6. Astrid Mues says:

    I ask you to please reconsider promoting keeping wildlife in captivity and in close interaction with humans. Lions and other wild animals are not ours to keep in captivity, as pets or as entertainment. Terrible accidents happen in these places, and the animal is killed as a result. Breeding in captivity and canned hunting are two of the many arms of wildlife trade, as are these programs and keeping lions as pets, Taiji is another example. Wildlife trafficking hurts more than it helps endangered species. Please reconsider your posture, get informed and help us raise awareness. http://www.lionaid.org http://www.cannedlion.org

  7. emerge28 says:

    First of all, thanks very much for dropping by the blog. Secondly, thanks for posting the links to the websites – I have done some reading around the subject and recognise this is a sensitive area, which many people are very passionate about. The walk itself was a great experience and you could really appreciate the majesty of these animals. It goes without saying that the ‘canned hunting’ industry is deplorable and more needs to be done to preserve the lives of the 30,000 lions left on the African continent. Best of luck with your campaign and thank you for highlighting it.

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