Marloth Park man is attacked by lion while riding his bike…A stick and flashing lights…

Jonas, a youthful-looking 40-year old owns several businesses and has done well in his life considering many hardships.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Blue-eared starling sitting atop fence post between Kruger National Park and Marloth Park.

It was no coincidence that Jonas was biking down the then-unpaved Olifant road in Marloth Park late at night, after spending time at the “farm” where many young men played soccer in the early evening. It’s was March 11, 1999, 19 years ago today.

Many young men worked and lived on the farm, and other locals were allowed to visit the privately-owned farm to play soccer, who’d leave at night to return to their respective homes located in Marloth Park.

In 1999, as few as 100 residents lived in Marloth Park and considerably more wildlife than is seen today, 19 years later. The now-electrified fence that generally keeps out the “big five” and more was then an easier-to-pass shorter fence with many of the more dangerous wildlife entering the park from time to time.

While at the farm, Jonas decided to grab a burning piece of food from an open fire. Realizing it was so dark, the firestick would help light his way home to his modest hut in the park. 

At one point, during his bicycle ride, he’d considered dropping the burning stick, thinking he may not need it. But, something inside of him inspired him to hang onto it. The stick wasn’t specifically “on fire” but consisted of burning embers, and who knows, it may become handy after all. He continued on his way, blissfully unaware or concerned about what lay ahead.

As Jonas told his story in Afrikaans, Danie translated it into English. 

Jonas grew up on a farm outside of Marloth Park and had learned to speak Afrikaans from other kids on the farm, who typically spoke both Swazi and Afrikaans. The ability to speak two languages is widespread in this part of the world, and often, many can speak English as well.

When Jonas visited us a few days ago, Danie came along as an “interpreter” since English is not his primary language, although he’s fluent in both Swazi and Afrikaans.

It was interesting to hear him tell his story of 19 years ago today, as he easily recalled details, speaking freely in the Afrikaans language. (There are over 3 million people who speak Swazi in South Africa, and 6 million speak Afrikaans, a language brought over to southern Africa, derived from the form of Dutch brought to the Cape by Protestant settlers in the 17th century).

Although we asked several questions during Jonas’s visit, Danie was an expert at maintaining the flow of pertinent questions that enabled us to grasp Jonas’s power and the significance of Jonas’s story.

In 1986, Jonas attended school in Hectorspruit. By the time he was in 10th grade, his parents had divorced, and he felt he had to leave school to earn a living to help out the family and perhaps someday return to school. His uncle offered him a job in Komatipoort as an assistant to his gardening business. 

He has scars all over his body from the attack.

Once he became adept at gardening, his uncle got him a job at a neighboring property where he worked as a gardener for ZAR 120 per month (in today’s US dollars, it would be US $10.16). After he saved his wages for a period, he decided returning to further his education would be most beneficial for his future.

He packed a bag, and while heading away from the property, a neighbor offered him ZAR 180 a month to work for her, now equivalent to US $15.23. He couldn’t refuse and immediately began his new employment. During this period, he returned each night to sleep at his uncle’s house in Marloth Park.

There were warnings about being out at night in Marloth Park during this period, but there was no means of enforcing such a restriction. Even today, with the giant game occasionally entering the park through openings in the fence, there’s no enforcement, and some locals freely wander about the garden in the dark.

The only other previously documented lion attack in Marloth was in 1997 at the local “caravan park” located near the Marlothi shopping center. A local ranger, Sydney, was attacked by four lions in this area while on his bike but was rescued by a man with a torch, ultimately saving his life after being severely injured.

Jonas and his uncle worked together on many smaller building jobs learning how to become a quality builder. By the time he was 20 years old, he was qualified to build houses and continues in his craft, yet today has attained quite a level of success with a family of his own, a huge home, and several businesses.

Little did he know that on today’s date, 19 years ago, the path for his life would be defined by a single incident that occurred on the road that night. As he continued on his bike ride on Olifant Street to his home, suddenly, he felt the fierce grip of a lion on his back as his bike toppled to the ground. 

He showed us a few of his scars from the attack, which had faded over these past 19 years.

He knew he was in grave danger of losing his life. With the firestick still in his hand, he used it as a weapon to fend off the determined lion, as he was clawed from head to toe by the vicious female.

What goes through a person’s mind during such a horrific event? Is it true one life flashes before them? In Jonas’s situation, his only thoughts centered around how he could maneuver the firestick to save his life hopefully.

However, the lion weighing from 112.5 kg to 136 kg (248 to 300 pounds) was winning the battle as Jonas wildly flailed the firestick, all the while fearing his life was about to end. The battle continued for what seemed like 10 to 15 minutes. However, in such a state, it’s nearly impossible to estimate an accurate time frame.

Jonas was tiring.  During this period, he noted another more miniature lion on the side of the road. Could it get any worse than it was?  In a mere flash of time, Jonas noticed the lights of a vehicle approaching.  Perhaps, his life wasn’t over after all.

In a state of hope, he was downtrodden when the vehicle turned off to a side road. When the headlights approached, the lion withdrew momentarily. A moment later, another set of headlights appeared, renewing Jonas’s hope.

As it turned out, it was a police truck (a truck known as a “bakkie” in South Africa), appearing suddenly from distant Komatipoort, a rare occurrence in this remote location. Upon exiting his vehicle seeing and seeing the lions, the officer fired a single shot into the air.

Tom, Jonas, and Danie.

The loud sound sent the lions scurrying off into the dense brush. Immediately, the police officer loaded Jonas into his vehicle and rushed off to the nearest hospital, Shongwe, in the neighboring town of Malelane, a 30-minute drive.

Jonas’s injuries, although severe, could have been much worse, had not used that firestick so desperately in an attempt to fend off the vicious lion. He stayed in the hospital for seven days as his wounds and tremendous loss of blood were attended to while he was placed on massive doses of antibiotics to avoid infection.

Jonas resisted returning to Marloth Park for many years, but his desire to become successful and accomplished brought him back. Today, he lives in a nearby town and works with his many customers in the area.

Although now 40 years old, Jonas appears youthful, fit, and full of life and energy. His passion for his life, family, work, and past experiences drive him to fulfill an essential role in his community.

May this date, 19 years later, serve as a reminder of the life of a brave young man, coupled with this simple fact…his time on this earth wasn’t up, and he was bound and determined to make the most of his life…and he has.

Thanks to Danie for his thoughtful interpretation and Jonas’s willingness to openly and willingly share his essential story of survival.

Photo from one year ago today, March 11, 2017:

Mystery Island, a tourists-only uninhabited island staffed by sellers and servers when cruise ships arrive in the area. For more photos, please click here.

More tragic loss of life in Germany…Change in today’s planned story…Binalong Bay photos…

Entrance statue of Binalong Bay. Click here to learn more.

After hearing about the horrific news of yet another terroristic attack in an open market in Germany, we changed the subject of today’s planned story. We’d planned to include photos of the Penguin Market (open every Sunday throughout the year) where many holiday shoppers gather to purchase unique Christmas goods offered by locals in a variety of booths and shops. 

Binalong Bay in beautiful and expansive.

We’ll publish the pictures and stories of the Penguin Market another day. For today, we can’t stop thinking about the nightmare in Germany, details of which may be found in this article.   (Keeping in mind all the recent scuttlebutt about the media’s often inaccurate representation of actual events, we encourage our readers, as we do ourselves, seek information from a variety of resources).

We traveled off the highway when driving from St. Helens to Penguin to see the popular Binalong Bay.

With a commitment to avoid posting our political opinions on this site, there’s little we can say other than to express our heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the loved ones of those who lost their lives and to pray for the healing of those injured. 

We have repeatedly mentioned such tragic events on our website and will continue to do so. Without a doubt, there will be more. How did we get here? How did these scenarios so easily unfold when there’s talk of beefed up security in prone locations?

Vegetation rich surroundings.
We all have opinions on who and what is to blame, often not only the perpetrator(s) but also politicians who’s decisions may have impacted the possibility of such occurrences. We live in a world where blame often extends well beyond the parties who conceived of, planned and enacted such attacks.
A path toward Binalong Bay.

Most of us don’t hesitate to share those views when we’re together in groups, during times of socialization and even at celebratory times such as during any holiday celebrations. 

Green bean looking pods on this plant in Binalong Bay.

Many of us don’t agree on these topics which can result in disharmony among family members and friends. Even on Facebook, a medium frequently used for political views, I find myself backing away when I’d prefer to keep myself from outrageous negative comments spewed by those who choose to use this means of communication with “friends” to let everyone know how they feel.

The wind causes a rippled pattern on the white sand beach.
Perhaps, how we “feel” is less important than what we “do.” We may ask ourselves, “How can I possibly effect change in this terrifying world?” I don’t have an easy answer, but I do know this… If each one of us, with humility and lack of desire for accolades for our good deeds, reached out to one another with kindness, love and compassion, the world would be a better place.
The scenery is exquisite with many inlets and lakes.

May this holiday season (and also for those not celebrating Christmas) bring each and every one of us an opportunity to reflect on who we are, who we’d like to be and how we can change to make this a better world.
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 21, 2015:

Last year, upon spotting this ship while moving along in traffic in Suva, Fiji, we were curious as to the purpose of this vessel. Upon returning home we discovered this: “The Yuan Wang 3 is at the Suva Harbour. The vessel is used for tracking and support of satellite and intercontinental ballistic missiles by the People’s Liberation Army, Navy (PLAN) of the People’s Republic of China.” For more details, please click here.