What an incredible Journey this was. We had a fantastic group of 7 people from all over the world, Finland, Israel, India, America and South Africa.

After everyone had arrived safely, some by plane, some by bus and one intrepid traveler in her pearl pink lady-bug car, we settled everyone into their rooms. A huge roar of gratitude to Lee Saudan who is now managing the guest camp, with noticeable efficiency and ease. We gathered at Camp Unicorn for introductions with Linda Tucker and to set our individual and group intentions for the journey.

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Camp Unicorn

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It has proved to be important to be aware of your intentions and set them at the start of the journey in order to see the results at the end.

Our first visit to the Tsau! pride was a very gentle introduction for everyone to adjust to the energy of the bushveld and the sacred lands of Tsau Conservancy. The lions themselves were elusive and not even a whisker was seen. Although each pride member has a radio collar and are tracked and monitored by the scientific team each day via telemetry, if they don’t want to be seen, they don’t need to be. It really is up to them whether they want to greet the guests or not. The first meeting can be incredibly overwhelming for people who have traveled all the way from distant lands to see the majestic star-lions. The fact that they are powerful apex predators can sometimes instill a bit of primal fear in people who are not familiar with Africa and her animal children. A close up-front meeting for the weary travelers may have been a bit too much for some. So the intuitive lions gave them time and space to get used to just being out under African skies, listening to the calls of the fiery-necked night jar and the cries of the black backed jackal.

It was perfect end to a long day and after a delicious meal prepared by Dan with the help of Mama Whina, Asnat and Sylvia, everyone decided on an early night.

That first night with the group was filled with the territorial roars of the resident prides and their neighbours in Kapama, Thorny bush and Timbavati reserves. I knew that come dawn we would have a perfect meeting with the Tsau Pride, consisting of the star brothers Matsieng, Zukhara and golden lioness, Tswalu.

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Zukhara camouflaged in the winter grass

We were not disappointed. We joined Lion Ecologist, Jason Turner on his dawn monitoring of the pride. Unlike the previous evening they were ready and waiting to greet us. The incredible thing about visiting the lions who are part of the White Lion Re-introduction project, is that because they have been treated with the utmost respect each step of the way, they know the vehicles and the drivers and are comfortable with us being in their space. We are always careful not to get too close and to respect their natural space. Interestingly that does not mean that they may not come a bit closer to us, often walking right alongside the vehicle acknowledging our presence but not invading our space either, being relaxed with both humans and lions enjoying each other’s presence.

Matsieng and Zukara were born in the protected freedom of Tsau Conservancy. They are free roaming, self sustaining lions who hunt for themselves. They are now 7 years old and ready to expand their pride. Tswalu joined them last year and has bonded beautifully with  Matsieng. We were honoured to witness the full courtship and mating ritual between the two during our time there. Time will tell if conception has taken place, if the time is right and all the energies are in place I have no doubt that the pride will expand along with their territory.

Matsieng and Tswalu

Matsieng and Tswalu

Back at Camp Unicorn we started the workshop. I explained the basics of Intuitive Animal Communication, how it works and how we recognise when the animals are communicating with us, how we receive their messages and how to effectively send messages to animals.

Interspecies communication plays an important role in the project. The lions are in their second stage of re-introduction which means they are still protected in a small conservancy where they won’t come across other lion prides, hundreds of tourists or, God forbid, hunters. The unfortunate fact remains that most of the neighbouring reserves still trophy hunt lion. Until their policy changes, Tsau Conservancy will not be able to drop their fences in order for their protected lions to roam free in the greater area. So in the meantime the land has to be tightly managed, with electric fences to protect these majestic beings from the danger posed by the unconscious human world. This is when communication with the animals can be very helpful. Prey animals need to be brought in as the land is currently not large enough to sustain the lion’s prey base. When this happens it is better that the lions are moved into the boma, a protective enclosure within their territories, for a few days so that the incoming animals can get used to their new home, becoming aware of the boundaries and the safe places to be. The group was called in to help when an unexpected arrival of a small herd of Zebra was imminent.

Fortunately the group had got the basics and through practice with camp dog and teacher Max, had shown great prowess as budding animal communicators. There were two aspects to our communication- one was to the lions, to inform them that they would need to be moved into their boma because new animals were being brought in. As a group we visualised the move going smoothly without any difficulties or stubbornness from them – if they did not want to go in, it could be very difficult to lure them in. We then turned our focus to the Zebra who were in the transportation truck on their way as we were working. The intention was to send them calm energy, to let them know that they would be moving to a new home where they would be free and safe. We visualised them moving out of the truck onto the land, settling in and exploring their boundaries and coming together as a herd. This was the first time that Shidolo camp would have Zebra, so they were the first of their species to walk this land for many years.

We had a quick update and everything had gone as smoothly as could be. The Royal pride moved quickly into the boma without a fuss. The Zebras were offloaded without incident and were surprisingly calm. It took a few days for them to find their way about but are now settled into their new home.

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Zebras being released at Shidolo Camp

One of the obvious questions came up during this communication: “How can we tell the Zebras they are safe, when they may very well be eaten by the lions?”

This is a very human reaction to the predator-prey relationship. Something that came up for me in the early days of my work with the project. The preferred prey of the lions are Wildebeest, being large animals and not very quick on their feet, they are relatively easy for the large cats to hunt. On one of my first drives out to see the lions when they were finally roaming free after the initial introduction process, we stopped near a herd of Wildebeest who were grazing calmly and looking at us curiously. I asked them how they felt about being the lions favourite food. The message I got back from them was profound. Immediately I saw an image of the herd running in a circle, as they ran faster they lifted up off the ground and became a blur of oneness forming a cone of light. At the tip of the cone was a golden Winged Lion. The Wildebeest were transformed into the Winged Lion, which represents among other things, the spirit of God (in all forms) and heavenly protection.

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Winged Lion of Venice

This said it all to me. Unlike in the modern human world, where human food is farmed and eaten with no relationship or respect from either side,  the predator-prey relationship is indeed a sacred one. Not every hunt that a lion embarks on is successful, I know that on some level there is an agreement which takes place before any prey is caught. Nature is truly phenomenal, when it is in balance everything works towards the survival of the planet, nothing is wasted and each element, whether animal, plant or mineral have their role to play. Nothing shows this more than within the African bushveld.

The following days were filled with beautiful experiences. A silent walk along the Klaserie river helped us to infuse the energy of the land into our souls. At the beautiful Rock Star Lion sculpture, Ngovuma Rising, set on the Nilotic meridian facing Giza, Egypt, Linda Tucker lead us through the mysteries of the White Lions and these sacred lands. With meditation and relaxation we enjoyed seeing the September super-moon edged to its full depth rising behind and the sun setting over the dragon montains in front of the tree house, set in the midst of the breathtaking beauty of Tsau land.

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Sun setting over the tail of the Dragon Mountains (Drakensburg)

On our last day in White Lion Territories, we met up with the Akeru pride- Letaba, Regeus and Golden Girl, Khinesa . They have been spending time in their boma as there has been horrific poaching presence on their land, which is a buffer between the community and the reserves. The time in the boma is also to them bond as a pride. Since the terrible death of Nyeleti by a poacher’s snare, Khinesa and the Akeru brothers have not bonded as we had hoped. The group spent time communicating with the three focusing on the ultimate outcome, a strong bonded pride bringing in a new generation.

Our last night was spent at Maria Khosa’s family village, Mufanyani, where we enjoyed a traditional meal with dancing around the fire. Sarah, Maria’s sister and the medicine woman for the village threw the bones for us, which showed the ancestors smiling upon our journey.

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Mufanyani Village at dusk – photo by Sally Wellbeloved

It was with both joy and a few tears that we said goodbye. Having forged a strong bond, the group committed to working together to share the message from nature and the lions, to come together in healing meditations and to support the Lions and the people who look after them however they are able. Their initial intentions were met and more so.

Another beautiful journey to the White Lion Lands culminated for me with a startling sighting of a very large, very relaxed female leopard walking down the road towards our vehicle. A rare and blessed sight.

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Relaxed female Leopard- thanks to Lee Saudan for being quick with her camera.

Inkomo Shinene- as they say in Shangaan, meaning “Thank you, very much!”