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Friday, May 1, 2009

The Rogue Lion - the painting and the story

I finished the lion today. Yay! Well, I promised I'd tell you about this lion. Here is the story. Last Fall we took the trip of our lifetime - a camera Safari to Africa. The second lodge we stayed at was at the Duma Tau Reserve at the edge of the Linyanti Swamp in northern Botswana. Twice a day we were taken out on "drives" in landrovers with experienced guides from the area. (Note: these are open vehicles and we were told not to stand up. As long as we stay seated the animals think we are part of the vehicle). Our guide was Mr. T, a 70-ish year old Botswanan who grew up in the area and knew it like the back of his hand. He was wirey, strong, and knew every animal and its habits, as well as its common name and scientific name. Here is an excerpt from my African Safari Journal from that day:


On our day of arrival, on our first drive, two women from the Bay Area joined us and Mr. T, for the 4:00 pm drive. This was to be the ladies' last drive, so they filled us in on the two rogue lions of this area . They told us that these two males came into the area and beat up a lioness. This lioness is in serious shape because she cannot hunt now. She was not a member of a pride, traveling with one grown daughter lioness. The women hoped that the daughter lioness would be able to hunt for her mother, or she would die.

So, this is where we were going first….to see the Bad Boys. And there they were, napping near a dried mudhole in the dry thornveld. Mr. T drove along the edge of the dry pan and then turned into it and drove through it, alongside the sleeping lions, coasted to a stop to about 20’ from them, and a huge BAM and sssssssssss! All of us jumped! Including the 2 sleeping lions! They now stood their ground and glared at us (I swear - in the eyes). We had a blow-out in a very bad spot! The woman in the front seat with Mr. T practically started crying – she begged him to move the vehicle away. But he had to wait until the air pressure leveled. (This is where I wasn't sure I believed the "they think you are part of the vehicle" part). Finally we crawled away to a safe (?) spot and Mr. T radioed for another spare. He changed the tire with us in the vehicle (by himself) and finally, another vehicle came with a new spare.

Now, with a new tire, we went back to the Bad Boys, but, they were napping again in the same general area (obviously they forgot the incident - not like me!). The picture I used for this painting was actually taken the following day when they were awake. This is when we discovered that one of them had a bad eye. Mr. T said they probably fight with other males in the area and get pretty beat up. The lion that I'm painting was this lion with the bad eye. But, who wants to paint an ugly white, enlarged, bulging eye? Not me. Also, he had very bad looking hair (I mean, mane). Looked like bedhead to me. So I also fixed up his mane for my painting as well. Thank goodness for artistic liberty!

1 comment:

Sharon said...

You would enjoy the HBO/BBC series created from the Alexander McCall Smith's books. I think it's the Ladies #1 Detective Agency - something like. Great story and I like your lion.