#lions are outside and #Kruger National Park is playing the post-midnight chorus of hyenas who scratch for bones over the big cats' previous kill. The Canadians we met yesterday are sleeping in their little pup tent just yards away from my tented bush office door. I hear them snoring lightly, adding their medley to the night sounds of Africa's Kruger Park. The lions grunt gently over the giraffe they took down just after sunset. It's a brutal world outside the tent where I sit and work at 3 AM.

The gentle pool of light that glows just enough for me to see my laptop and the illusion of civilization and safety that the thin high tech fabric of my tent brings me in the pre-dawn darkness of lion territory, is not enough to stop my mind from wandering from my work.

Advertisements
Advertisements

I hear the soft pad of the hyena looking for a free dinner in the camp. I saw the hole he dug just yesterday, to tunnel inside the fence. The dainty bushbuck who found refuge in the camp are skittish. The bug-eyed bush babies are crying in the early morning. Hippos splash and hoot down by the river in their tuba-like way. The lions are out. The hyenas are prowling. The African night is magical, unforgiving, brutal, beautiful - infinitely honest.

Lions are poached for their bones and skin

Lions are poached and on the menu for bone wine. The USA implemented protection on the import of lion parts. The anti-hunting lobby is working tirelessly somewhere over the horizon where it is still daytime, to try and preserve the magnificent big cats. The pride of thirteen lions that savaged one of their own four days ago live in a time capsule.

Advertisements

Do they know they are not the top predator? Kruger National Park is a big as Connecticut. In their kingdom, there is no concept of war and culture and ant-like humans swarming over the planet, like the locusts that strip their environment before moving on to locust Mars.

In our world, Ben Simmons got his triple-double in his fourth game as an NBA player. Donald Trump seethes on Twitter and some celebrity is criticised for his tattoos. I edit a story about Game Freak reaching the limits of 3DS' hardware capability. It feels incongruous to edit and read of these things while my mind is on the young male lion that has been left to die just a few hundred yards away from where I sit in my choice of paradox.

Brutal, harsh but honest wilderness

The southern circle lions that inhabit the Crocodile Bridge area of Kruger National Park care nothing for my paradox, my daily routines, my ego, or the ambition of the lovely young Canadian couple, so in love, sharing their pup tent under the stars so far from their home.

Advertisements

The lions care not for the suffering of the young lion their dominant males mutilated and left to die in nature's brutal way.

The young lion made a mistake. I saw him a week ago at the waterhole, where he lay in clumsy ambush to catch a passing wild pig. That night he tried to edge in on the main pride's meal. A bone-rattling roaring melee ensued and so four days later the dreams of the outsider of having a pride for himself, of lording it over the patch of wilderness that is his universe, are dying - just as he is, with a paralyzing bite to his spine.

The game rangers who risk their lives in battle with the poachers who would shoot that young lion for his paws and skin will not intervene. They won't shoot the lion with his pain-filled eyes and his massive shock and heat-induced thirst. They won't euthanase him to stop his inevitable death when the hyenas overcome their fears of the bigger predator and come to finally kill him. This is nature. It is nature's way and nature is brutal.

Life without nature is a sadder place

One of my writers is mixing up Yahoo and AP style formatting. The Canadians are flying out of Johannesburg's Oliver Tambo International airport later today with a cloud full of photos and selfies to share with their friends. Smokers will take to their blogs and flail their useless arguments against New York's vape ban. Kim Jong-un will rattle his nuclear saber and Theresa May will wake up to Brexit. Somewhere, a young child will be beaten to death, a man will be executed, a mother will die in a traffic accident. It's a brutal world. No less harsh than the territory of the lions and the hyenas where brutality abounds.

The dawn chorus is starting now. The early birds are bringing cheer as the first light tips a blessedly cool morning into being. The scent of coffee wafts across the camp. Beauty is stealing in to banish the terrors of the African night. Out there in the big city, just four hours drive away, no doubt there is a baby being born right now. Will they get to sit in the wilderness and listen to the lions? Will they ever hear the trumpet of the elephants at water? Will they see the ungainly rhinos wallow at the waterhole? Life without nature in the raw will be a sadder place. Humanity needs nature, to remind us who we are, where we are, and in a small way, why we are.

Crocodile Camp Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park Crocodile Camp is situated just four hours away from the International Airport in Johannesburg. The camp offers self-catering chalets, tented camps, and a caravan-camp site. Visitors can do guided walks and drives, or self-drive. A small shop stocks the basics and a bunch of keepsakes and curios. Bookings can be made online [VIDEO] via SANParks org. #Travel