9 October 2017
A Hunting Trip
News of the lion’s assault on a child spread like a holocaust. Now, this was not the lion’s first appearance in the village. Before this attack, the villagers had lost some goats, pigs and poultry but the disappearances remained a thriller as nobody could confirm that they were the lion’s doing. All the villagers now lived in fear of coming face-to-face with the lion and consequently being attacked. Before long, the lion struck again.
This time, the victim was a 15-years old school girl who was fetching water from the river. The villagers right away prepared a hunting party. Armed with machetes, rifles and axes, the hunting party compromising ten men, three women and me. We left for the woods on February 15. The leader of the group was my elder brother, Bernard. We had the longest night ever. Mosquitoes, the mud in the woods, the sound of crickets, and all the sounds of the nocturnal creatures of the jungle kept us awake all night. Without being able to sleep throughout the night, and with the uncomfortable conditions in the woods and no sign of the lion, we almost gave up. At first sign of daylight hours, we were up. We ate the food we had brought and kept searching the woods for the lion. Our stroll slowed down to a snail’s pace as we had to make our manner move through the muddy and bushy fields infested with insects. As it started to get dark, we nervously searched for a site to set our camp. Suddenly, we saw the flicker of a fire in a distance.
We decided to go the direction of the fire. We got there and discovered a group of humans amassed around the hearth. It turned out to be a small village called Ekliwindi. The very hospitable villagers gave us a nicely grilled fish with mashed potatoes, sweet palm wine and a large tent with grass mattresses to spend the night. We told the villagers about the lion’s various attacks in our village. They then told us a lion had attacked more than ten people in their small village. After we had discussed the details on how to trap the lion, we went to sleep.
At the break of sunrise, we headed for the hills to the east of the village. After diligently searching for the lion’s paw prints, we came to a clearing. Bernard waved us to stop. Some bushes swished like something was moving, and there among the bushes, the figure of the lion emerged into sight. We looked at each other with so much excitement but deep down we were in fear of being attacked by the lion. We couldn’t believe we had come face-to-face with the lion. That moment, was the moment we had been waiting for since we left our village. We were all quiet, and it seemed like everyone had some breathing. A shiver crept up the spine of everyone in the group. My heart rate went up to a thousand, and I changed into actually shaking in fear
Bernard steadied his rifle, visibly panicking in fear, and aimed it at the lion’s head. The hair at the back of my head rose. We stood there with our fingers crossed, hoping and praying Bernard didn’t lose the one and best shot he had. Then he pulled the trigger and the bullet went straight between the eyes of the lion. The king of the jungle staggered, groaned in ache and collapsed. We weren’t sure if it was dead or just collapsed. Agitated, we all moved towards the lion’s body. Bernard then checked if the lion was still breathing. “It’s dead.” he shouted. We all celebrated by shouting “uh hoo” sounds of victory. We then joined hands to carry the dead lion to the village to celebrate with the rest of the villagers.
Mission complete, we returned to Ekliwindi, shared the news of victory with the villagers and headed back to our village. When we got there, the lion’s meat was dinner for the entire village that evening. It became an outstanding adventure, one that would for all time stay in our memories forever.