After lunch, I decided to sit by the waterhole in Okaukuejo to look at the animals, read my book and sunbath. The activity at the waterhole varies a lot, but most of the times it's an active waterhole with a lot of visitors. And today was no different. When I came closer to the waterhole, a blanket of grey colour appeared. I was just interrupting an elephant meeting! It was a big herd of fifteen individuals in different sizes. It was so beautiful to witness. There were many little ones, and they were curious, playful but also dependent on their mothers. When she moved, the little one wasn't far away. There were also two bulls in the herd, but these big guys was more busy eating the grass around the waterhole, than to take care of the small ones. Elephants are really funny to study, their behaviour is really interesting. First of all, they fart all the time! No shame at all! Then they also pee and pooh everywhere they stand, also in the water. Elephants have developed really cool strategies to cool down. There were one elephant that seemed really warm today. First she drank a lot from the waterhole, before she started to walk out in the water. There she started filling her trunk with water before she waved it to each side, blowing out water on each side of her body. Then she filled the trunk again, raised it high over her head and blew the water on her back. Before she headed up from the water, she started stamping with her front legs so water flushed up on her belly. It was really funny and cool to look at!
After watching these amazing animals, I went to Gottfriedt in the office. He wasn't there, but came back shortly, telling me he had joined the pilot here in Etosha and had seen the park from the sky. He was really excited. Then we met the vet here who said they were going to dart a lion and he wondered if we wanted to join. Of course! So we rushed to the cars. Namibia's government has decided to send some animals from Etosha to Cuba, as a thank you for the support from the Cuban government during the fight for independence. Yes, it sounds weird, and as a vet nurse I'm really sceptical. But it's a political issue, so it's little the workers here in Etosha can do about it, including the vet. The main thing now is to take as good care for these animals as possible, and to get them to Cuba safely. So today, they wanted to dart a lion to show some Cuban visitors, including a Cuban vet, how they do it in Namibia. So we headed out, four cars and twelve people, to find a lion to dart.
We went to a waterhole where a lion herd has been spotted before, and as we were passing the waterhole, a lioness was lying there. Shortly after, she started to roar, and a male lion appeared from a far. The vet had speakers on the back of his car that made the sound of an animal (kudu or zebra) that was stuck or something. This sound would trigger a lion to want to see if it was an easy meal that made the sound. Immediately after the sound started, lions started to roar from two places around us. It was really nice to hear them call. They have so powerful roars.
When the time was in, the vet drove further in the plain, while the rest of us were waiting by the road. Shortly after, Gottfriedt heard that the vet had caught a lion, and after some time the vet called and said we could all come now. When we came closer to the vet's car we could clearly see a beautiful body lying on the ground. It had a smooth fur and a big mane, a male lion. He was lying very still, heavily sedated. The vet turned it on the side and took out the arrow from the dart gun. Then he put on some antibiotics on the wound and took blood samples. All the time, the cars was lighting out in the grass around us, in case the lioness would come back for her man. I rushed earlier, so didn't have time to get my camera. So I only had my phone that was without a good camera. But I tried to take some pictures and video. The Cubans wanted pictures with the lion and with the vet. When the vet was done, he told me to come and touch the lion. I felt a little scared, after seen a lot of animals just lightly sedated, I wasn't sure how far away the lion was. But he was far away in dream land! I first touched his paw, it was huge! Bigger than my hand! Then I felt his soft mane, his shorter hair on his body, looked at his huge canine tooth and felt his dry nose. His beauty was undescribable. I just forgot everyone around me and I just felt it was only me, my big smile and Etoshas king!
When everyone was finished with their pictures, the vet gave the lion a shot to reverse the anaesthetics. We all went in to our cars again, and waited for the lion to wake up. It took quite long time, but after some minutes waiting, the ears started moving. Then he lifted his head up from the ground, and that face I have seen many times in the vet clinics in Norway. The wrinkly face, the groggy eyes and the look that says "what happened? Where am I now?" He was so cute. We waited until he was on his legs, and in the beginning he was really shaky and fell down many times. In the end he walked into the darkness, and I knew I would never see a more beautiful man in my whole life (no offence Gottfriedt)!