Friday 25th June 2010.Published Wednesday 30th June 2010 (Kirsty’s blog)
Firstly a huge thank you to Little Henry/Sambo/Mrs Key for running around to our house, collecting post and watering Mr P’s plants, he’s been worried about them in the heat, though I did get a frantic phone call from Little Henry who couldn’t get into the house for some reason, but was bursting for the loo! She’d had a run to ours from the neighbouring village so couldn’t get back quickly…thankfully the door finally opened and disaster was averted! Thanks for watering the plants Sambo and not watering the doorstep ;o) (I’m sure she’ll love me for revealing that!)
So after nursing a hangover in Port Elizabeth we head out to Seaview Lion and Wildlife park about 40 mins outside PE as recommended by Wendy at Sir Roy’s. It’s a great place, obviously with a seaview, hence the name and we self drive through the park and spot giraffes and a variety of different looking deer like creatures (I have subsequently looked them up then promptly forgotten what they were all called!)
We then arrive at the lion part of the park whereby they send you and your car into the lion enclosure through a series of huge metal gates, very reminiscent of Jurassic Park. In order to get a good photo opp, Andy wound down his window to get the lion in the background (which we were told not to) and then turned his back on the lions. Great fun telling him that they were right behind him at the open window!
We then went to the area where they hand rear the lion cubs, they’re absolutely beautiful, after a couple of months and up until twelve months they go into an enclosure where they can still be stroked however no children are allowed in with the adolescent lions. Straight away we can see why, as we’re on a suspended wooden walkway above the enclosure, the lions were lying around lazily playing with each other and dragging unidentified hunks of meat and hoofed legs around the place, taking absolutely no notice of the people on the walkways…that is until a child came along! Suddenly all lion eyes are on the child and they start stalking. The children are oblivious to this but the Lion’s instincts are clearly to pick off the smaller prey, we watched time and time again as the lions would appear to be asleep until the appearence of a child when they would be wide awake, alert and start prowling alongside the child, at one point there was a child running along the walkway closely followed by a couple of running lions, it’s actually quite perturbing to see the way they were watching the kids, they never took their eyes off them!
The good thing about this santuary is the fact that after maturity these lions are trained to hunt (wouldn’t take much from what we saw) and then released into the wild through a series of National Parks and Game Reserves. The same happens with the tigers here, though they’re not indiginous to South Africa, projects like this can only help the seriously dwindling tiger population.
After spending a lovely afternoon with the lions we then film another piece to camera for Mike at BBC Look East for Andy’s response to England’s win, we film it from the beautiful Seaview Lion Sanctuary and it goes out that evening, where it’s spotted by Alfie Dinsey amongst others, Andy’s 15 minutes of fame continues.
We head straight to PE airport from Seaview for our flight back to Joburg, we get there ludicrously early as we want to watch the afternoon fooball. We’re greeted by the superbly, smiley and happy Joey from Europcar (pictured below) and head into the departure lounge.
Turns out our flight to Joburg is ‘delayed indefinitely’, what the bejeezus does that mean? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? No one seems to know!
After some scant information and a free burger we finally leave PE at around 10.30pm (we got to see the evening game too), so we spent around six hours at an airport that doesn’t have an awful lot of entertainment or shopping to be had…though the only thing I was worried about was poor Bonny the dog back at Joburg who was waiting patiently for us to get back and feed her, she had to wait ’til 1am for her dinner, she was ever so pleased to see us, bless her!
Bloemfontein and Germany next, should be fun!