The Story of the Tailless Lion of Kruger

One of the Special things about the Kruger National Park, is that it not only captivates the individual but also leave a legacy. For many the magic of Kruger is something that has been passed down from generations and in our case that starts right from the every beginning. Here is a personal account from Andrew's father at the age for 14 years old - circa 1956.


After a six-week, seemingly endless, sea voyage from Rotterdam to Durban from early February till mid March 1956, my parents and I (14) within weeks visited the Kruger National Park. I had never been to a zoo, never mind a Game Reserve. Only Circus Benneweis, which was in Copenhagen.

We spent the first night at Pretoriuskop, sitting out under the fantastic night sky of Africa, lit up by millions of stars shining with clear brilliance, not dampened by pollution, listening to the sounds of the wild: an extra out- of- the- body experience, forever remembered.

The next morning, up at 4.30 am, into the car, driving slowly on a sand road to Skukuza, the first major sight was a pack of Wild Dogs, running ahead of us , 7 of them, making highly pitched yelps, leaving the road ,and us , after around 1km.They had ignored us, getting on with their day.

Then an elephant next. I was so excited, I jumped out of the car to get a better ‘shot’ on camera, my father shouting ‘‘Klaus, Idiot, zurueck ins Auto, Bloedmann’…the shot was ruined. Impalas galore, so pretty, innocently munching fresh grass, the Wildebeests, mingling with alert Zebras for protection , and Giraffes ’ looking down ‘ on us , disdainfully. We soaked in the morning solitude at a waterhole, watching a family of Warthogs parading towards the water, tails up like antennas.

Halfway to Skukuza we came across a male lion, standing still in the morning sun, motionless, like a statue. He turned his back towards us: he had no tail!! Was it bitten off in a fight? Most likely .I took some brilliant photos----until he turned away, almost embarrassed, hiding behind a big shrub.

What a unique sight. A Tailless Lion ! It made our day----and still 6 hours to go!

The Kruger National Park: food for the soul, for one’s spirit, for the senses: sounds, images, smells, all presented in the miraculous theatre of Mother Earth!

by Klaus-Peter Wagner

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