I’m coming up on the end of my second week in Antelope Park, and it’s going by far too quickly. Our days are full of various work activities, starting at 6:30 a.m. and wrapping up by about 6:00 p.m. My days have included lion walks, cub sitting, elephant walks, enclosure maintenance and cleaning, water refilling for the various enclosures, and helping out with whatever else needs to be done, such as painting and other maintenance. The lion walks are particularly active in the day and a half before their feeding (every three days at this age), where they engage in a fair amount of stalking of prey and make a valiant effort at trying to capture something. So far, Alika, the lone female of the four walking lions, has made one kill of a small mongoose that her brother, Africa, chased down.
I’ve also gone out in the research vehicle to see the Ngamo pride here, which is their Stage II pride in a semi-wild environment. There are eleven pride members, which include various lions that were walked when younger, and then five lions that have been born into the pride that have had no human contact and are the ones who are candidates for release into the wild. The other Stage II pride is the Dambwa pride in Livingston, Zambia, that I visited when I was in Victoria Falls, since it’s just across the border. That pride had six members that were retired from lion walks, and six members born into the pride, so those newest six are also candidates for release. It’s been a real treat to have the head of their research team here in AP visiting from Livingston, and to learn even more about the overall program from her. There are so many dimensions to this effort, with a huge community aspect, since wildlife management involves the surrounding communities.
Whether to extend my time here has been on my mind, either to stay here in AP and continue with this program for a bit longer, or to travel to other places while on this continent, since it makes sense to make those trips while I’m already here, versus the expense of the airfare from the U.S. again. There would be a fair amount of things to coordinate to stay longer, so I’m not sure it’ll work out. If not, I know that I will return — I will not rest until I see the Serengeti at least once in my life.
As for what’s next after this, I still don’t know. I know that I have turned a page in this chapter of my life and that my future looks different from my past in ways that I have yet to fully figure out. I’ve always known that I wasn’t really doing what I was meant to do — that I needed something with more meaning, more depth, more texture. And now that I’ve had a taste of this type of thing, I’m even more focused on using my life in such ways. A sage friend suggested that I knock off the third of my top three travel destinations, since I’ve now gone to Italy and Africa, and the third of my top three is the Caribbean. Perhaps that’s next. Or perhaps what’s next is my move down the coast from Seattle to San Diego and giving that a go. Or perhaps it’s some other adventure that I have yet to discover. I’ve never not had a plan, and it’s both a bit disconcerting and a bit peaceful all at the same time to not know what’s next. But what I do know for sure is that I am tracking a new path. And it’s glorious.