HERITAGE – teddy the lion

There is an old saying that Africa is Lion Country. Never a truer word spoken. Almost all the soldiers that completed the initial cycle in the 70’s and 80’s would have spent time in the training base called Fort Doppies. This beautiful piece of bush was still lion country then – literally and figuratively. The base itself was very elementary – with bush-basher open cabins. The bush itself was wild with nothing within 500km in any direction. All that showed Angola or Botswana was a cutline in the trees. Every course there had a close encounter or two.

But most of the stories are about Teddy – our young male Lion. Teddy and his sister Lisa arrived in Doppies from Central SWA as young cubs. Dewald – the base Commander at the time – received them as a gift and he and his wife Dot raised them. As if dogs they were not fenced in and Teddy was often seen hitching a ride on the back of the short wheel based Land Rover. The young lions could go where they wanted – which they did. They ended up as sort of free roaming “tame-ish” type of lions. Lisa was mauled by a wild lioness on one of these outings and didn’t survive so Teddy was left to terrorise the unsuspecting students by himself. The stories about him are enough to fill a book.

As for the soldiers – well somehow if you have trained and lived with a lion for weeks at a time and he happens to join for the 5km morning run, and swims in the river with you on weekends , plays soccer with you during recreational training, then the bush doesn’t seem that imposing anymore. More important is after this the respect you learn for all things living just gets that much more.



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