Marloth Park has suffered a sad loss of a beloved animal…

Not our photo. Fluffy, male, and Dezi at the Impala Dam on January 15, 2021.

After a good night’s sleep, I awoke this morning at 7:30 and began my day by checking out the world news, my email, messages on Messenger, text, and WhatsApp, and finally checking out the most recent new posts on Facebook as I always do. I love knowing what’s going on in the world. I also listen to podcasts when getting ready for the day. But more on that later in this post.

When I read the following post this morning that popped up on Facebook, it brought tears to my eyes. Not only was it beautifully written and heart-wrenching, it was sensitive to the reality that few of us in Marloth Park had ever seen Dezi, but that didn’t mean we didn’t love her.

Many nights, we’ve sat on the veranda and listened to hers, and Fluffy’s roar permeates the air. Last night, the roars we heard must have only been Fluffy’s since, by then, Dezi was no more.

Please read the following unedited, beautiful tributes to her and her sad passing.

May be an image of big cat and nature
Not our photo. Fluffy and Dezi at the water’s edge in Lionspruit.

✝️A TRIBUTE TO QUEEN DEZI ✝️ by Gerrie Camacho.

The roar from the Lionspruit lioness, also known as Dezi, will no longer be heard as she has spent her last night under the Lowveld skies. As of last night, she will no longer join her mate of the past 16 plus years in the always familiar duet of lion vocalization, claiming Lionspruit as their territory. She was a quiet legend and was most probably one of the oldest wild living lionesses but at the age of twenty years had to quit the African bush life.

Few people were privileged to spend time with her, many were lucky to see her, and most owners and visitors had the regular privilege to hear her at night time. After her radio collar transmitted from the same area for the past few days, it was pertinent to go find her on foot in an area too dense to enter with a vehicle.

She was hardly responding to any stimuli of the sound of humans and paid no attention to our approach on foot. A winding pathway was established from the nearest road to approach her by vehicle. Here she was darted and taken to a workable area where she was examined by Doc Peet.

We can only pay tribute to this female who kept a fighting spirit to survive until the last minute. Doc Peet who has been serving the Marloth community voluntarily and diligently over the past couple of years had the sad task to let her pass on as humanely as possible. This task could have been performed more easily, but he chose to help her out of this life with as much dignity as possible. Thank you to all those involved in finding her. Thank you Doc Peet for the professional, compassionate and respectful manner you once again showed while working with this magnificent beast in her last moments under the Lionspruit skies. R.I.P. Dezi!❤️

Also, on Facebook was the following message further explaining her passing:

It is a sad day indeed for all of us who love our own Lionspruit lions.
Yesterday we lost Dezi. It has been a long week of hoping against hope that she would recover from age-related injuries that she recently suffered whilst still living her best lion life. But unfortunately, she was losing ground day by day. Dezi indeed lived to a great age for a lion.
We would like to thank Doctor Peet Venter for his caring, professional input. He concluded yesterday that Dezi was suffering, and it was time to let her go. Thank you also to Gerrie Camacho from MTPA, the Marloth Park Field Rangers, and the Honorary Rangers for this last day of care. A special thank you to Joce Gordon for the time-intensive monitoring, especially over the last few weeks.
Genie Retief, Chief Honorary Ranger.”
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Not our photo. Another gorgeous photo of Dezi.

It is amazing that those of us who love wildlife can feel so deeply for an animal they’ve only heard but never seen. That’s the magic of living in Africa, or anywhere there is free-roaming wildlife. We fall in love with their beauty, uniqueness, and mystery, although we were never able to get too close to her or ever see her at all.

If we are so touched by the sound of a lion, living only meters away from Lionspruit, which abuts our holiday home in the rear, it is easy to understand how connected we become with the animals we see almost every day, who look into our eyes, with trust and interest and depend on us, in the leanest times, to toss some sustenance their way.

Soon, the holidaymakers who came to the park for the Christmas and New Year season will be leaving to return to their homes in other parts of South Africa and, for some, other parts of the world. When they are gone, the vast numbers of animals that routinely visit us will return to us in abundance.

Now, with the rich vegetation for the wildlife to eat after weeks of rain, they no longer need much in the way of pellets. And yet, day by day, they return, much to our joy and appreciation. Sure, we still toss a few pellets their way, the same way you’d offer your dog or cat an occasional treat, knowing with or without this offering, you are still loved, still important in their lives.

In the future, the lion roars we hear at night will only be those of Fluffy and, of course, the remaining five lions currently residing in our presence.

The holiday has ended, but our hope for the future is only just beginning. May the New Year bring all of us peace of mind and comfort.

Photo from one year ago today, January 3, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #284. Festival in the street in India. “Meena Sankranti is an important Hindu festival observed on the auspicious occasion of the sun’s transition from Pisces to Aries. Known as Meena Sankramanam in South India, the festival will be celebrated on March 14 (Saturday), 2020, all over India. Celebrating a Sankranti is often marked with the donation of various things. According to specific personal needs, the people celebrate the event at the onset of every month. Some Indian states like Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala observe the occasion at the beginning of each month. In contrast, states like West Bengal celebrate the festival during the latter half of the month.” For more photos, please click here.

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