Dear Mika, Merry Christmas, we love you all!
We recently met a pride of lions at Inkwe Pan. Among them was the most beautiful, biggest, most impressive and also by far the oldest lioness in the entire reserve. We call her "Mika". It was a sighting of rare beauty.
by Rolf Steiner, owner of Rhulani Safari Lodge
When I started my business in Rhulani Safari Lodge almost 7 years ago, I met «Mika» the first time. It was already a special lioness at that time. She had a territory in the region of our lodge, very close. Back then I was made aware of how big Mika was and what a beauty she was: a wonderful face and a flawless body.
But Mika was also known for the fact that she was often grumpy. So she growled at our vehicle when we approached. She was also said to be very dangerous. To find her on a bush walk ... well, good luck!
At that time Mika was almost 12 years old, which was a relatively old age for a lioness that lives in a Big 5 reserve . So I should enjoy this meeting, they said, because we would soon miss Mika. In my following trips to Rhulani, I always wondered how Mika is doing and kept asking whether she was still alive.
It is now December 2019. Shortly before Christmas I make my almost 30th trip to Rhulani. And it is hard to believe: this magnificent lioness is lying in the sun near the Inkwe Pan. Flawless. Healthy. Majestic. Just unbelievable. No sign of aging. On the light brown fur, no scratch.
My ranger Martin gives me an update: "She is now almost 19 years old and she is very healthy. She still hunts on her own”. In the meantime, Mika starts to roar loudly to let the whole area know that she is in charge of this place.
I take my camera out of my pocket and do not miss the opportunity to photograph my favorite lioness in the most beautiful light. Who knows, maybe I see Mike for the last time today. It will be one of the saddest days for me and for all Madikwe friends when we find her dead, I think.
Dear Mika, on behalf of the entire Rhulani team, I wish you a Merry Christmas. Please please take care of you, so that we will see you in full beauty again next year!