Rolling about with lion cubs is not something I expected to do on a recent trip to the island of Mauritius. Lions are not indigenous to the island, but have been brought by Graeme Bristow, owner of Adventures Safari (www.safari-advenures-mauritius.com) where he and his team enables groups of up to twelve to literally walk with two full grown lions for about half an hour through forest and have their pictures taken with the lions. We are literally within breathing distance of the animals. It's the first place in the world to do this, but not the only place). Ajay, our guide, advised us not to walk in front of them, not to run, not to bend down and not to shout. ‘they are wild animals’ he kept repeating, but as I stroked one of the females on the back I had that surreal sense of doing what I had always wanted to do on safari as a child and ‘stroke the cuddly lion.’
If the lions are the icing on the cake, rolling about with the lion cubs is the cherry on the icing on the cake. These solid little bundles of play time have wide bright brown eyes and long sharp claws but in the same way baby elephants are more dangerous than fully grown ones, they don’t know their own strength and consequently could lash out playfully bearing their claws and knock your eye out. Ginger and Rolly were abandoned by their mothers. Lions are famed for being good mothers, but this is not necessarily the case. They are above all ruthless survivors. If the lioness feels the cubs will endanger the pride, she will let them die. So much for the largesse of a lionheart. But as I kneel down by Ginger, a very playful cub, tickling his tummy, marvelling at the intimacy, relishing each moment, looking into his large glassy eyes its hard to believe. I strongly recommend.