I leave camp with lights out, driving by moonlight. I heard a lion’s roar near the campsite, and I drive south. Stopping the truck a mile or two out, I sit and listen to the African night. A jackel’s yelp. Bird song. Baboons squabbling in a distant tree. No lions.
And then I make out three shadows, padding silently through the sand, moving with quiet purpose. I feel a mix of wonder, fear and joy at the sight. I hear nothing but the odd growl and purr as they stroll into the night.
Further south, five sets of eyes reflect in my headlights, small golden coals lighting up with curiosity. Half-grown cubs play in the sand tracks, rolling around in the tall grass and setting up ambushes and leaping onto each other. A lioness’ call sends the cubs scrambling off into the brush with me fumbling behind.