The Masai Mara has always been my favourite wildlife destination. I feel part of it and get new experiences every time I visit the reserve.

My latest trip to the reserve was in late September 2015. All packed up and excited we left Nairobi on a Friday morning at around 6.30 am. Our land cruiser cruised through the Rift valley escarpment down the carpeted road and into the Mara.

The ride into the reserve was a bumpy one since there was a heavy downpour the night before. The road was wet and slippery, our land cruiser got stuck in the mud getting us all messy and dirty as we tried to push it out. What a fun start to our trip!

At around 1, we had settled into our allocated rooms and after a filling lunch we set out for our first game drive. The park had a great number of giraffes, zebras, hyenas, and huge herds of elephants trumpeting their way as they crossed the tracks. Mostly all groups of animals we came across had little ones amongst them; it was the baby season as it seemed.

We were driving towards Sand River when we spotted something unusual at the road side - an injured young male lion. We stopped at the roadside to see if it was still alive - thank God it was. All confused we did not know where to seek for help. All other tour vehicles passed by without slowing down blowing dust and pebbles on the injured animal. We had to signal all cars to slow down so as to have less of this thrown onto the wounds. The lion’s tail was bitten off and its flesh was all out in the open. He was in so much pain but I must say that it was very clever of the lion to lay by the roadside to seek help. We chose not to ignore his call.

From my angle of view it looked as if his tail had been cut off. I was too scared to leave him in that state. I made a phone call back to my office at Wilson Airport. It’s a private Charter company that also works on animal rescues. After talking to several people, I managed to get the contacts of a local vet at the Mara. I called the vet but he was on the other side of the reserve treating a cheetah and could only make it to where the lion was in a few hours. Just then, a white pickup stopped by and after telling them what was happening they promised to stay with the animal until the vet got there. It was a relief knowing that help was on its way, we decided to continue with our adventure. The Sand River scenery was breath-taking, we came across a playful pride of lionesses basking in the sun while their cubs fought each other over the carcass of a zebra.

We then headed to the Mara River. It was my first time experiencing the wildebeest migration and I second the belief that it is definitely one of nature’s biggest wildlife spectacles. They were thousands in number – all following one another, but something was still bothering me about the injured lion. I called the vet again and he informed me that he still had not gotten to the spot. I asked the driver to return to the spot where we had first seen him. We reached there but there was no sight of the lion nor the pick up. This got me worried. Just then a rangers Suzuki drove by and told us that they had been informed about the injured animal through a radio call. Again so many thoughts came to my mind. What if the pickup belonged to poachers? What if we left him in the wrong hands? If they were genuine rangers why would there be a second group of rangers looking for the same animal? Did we get the animal into more trouble? We decided to search the area looking for the animal. It had hit 5.00 pm and we were still in search.

Just then I got a call from the vet that they had spotted the male on Roan hill. I had to get to the hill to see for myself that all was fine. We reached the hill top and found him there, still in pain. The vet got down his vet mobile unit and darted the male. After 3 darts he fell to the ground. The vet team started the treatment process. It was cold, raining and late in the evening but no one gave up on the animal. I sat right next to him and wished I could get his head in my laps. They cleaned him up, injected him with medication and applied antibiotic. Patting him while taking treatment was an unexplainable connection I felt with the animal. After 45 minutes the treatment process was over. I had to kiss him a quick recovery and now leave him to get back into his wild space.

Being with a lion in the open wilderness was a different experience on its own; a lifetime memory this was.

We got back to our vehicles and waited for the lion to regain consciousness. After a few minutes he woke up and walked into the wild. It had clocked 7.30 pm and it was time to get back to our hotel. I thanked the vet – Dr. Limo, Felix and his KWS Team for the amazing work that they do. Thanks to Willy Mwangi – our tour driver for his support and patience. I’m Glad that I could make a small difference by helping them save the lion.

I was later informed that the lion that we helped save was a nomad who moves between plains. The injury on his tail was a result of a male fight. He got involved with resident lions in an attempt to take over their territory – boys will always be boys.

Wildlife is our heritage and wildlife conservation affects all individuals in one way or another. We should try and make a positive difference whenever we can. A small effort can go a long way.

By Daljit Kaur

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