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By Arlene Batchelder 18 May 2005

"In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight...." and "Where have all the lions gone..." were the song that kept going through our heads as we drove through the game parks looking for the king of beasts.

Our quest started in Kenya while visiting the Nairobi Game Park. We drove a Toyota land cruiser for 10 hours over washboard, mud covered, pot holed roads looking for the mighty lion. We went back and forth through the "lion valley" passed the "lion tree" and around all the herds of grazing animals. We even went to "Kampi yo Simba". No Lions appeared that day. Well, no worry, we have more game parks to see in Tanzania.

We were excited. Our Safari included a professional driver/guide, named Patrick, who was a walking encyclopedia of animal and plant lore. We left Usa River at 6:45 am in the morning and arrived at Lake Manyara National Park at 9 am. Our hopes were high since Lake Manyara is the home of the famous tree-climbing lions. During the almost six hours we were there, we saw many types of animals. It was interesting to see hundreds of baboons, baby elephants, a baby hippo, the elusive dikdik antelope (the smallest antelope) and all the other grazing animals including giraffes. But, no lions. No worries, we were on our way to the Ngorongoro Crater which has one of the highest predator populations in Africa.

After watching the sunset from the crater rim at the Sopa Lodge, at 7,800 feet, at having a lovely meal with traditional African singing we were ready for the next day. We were up at 5:30 am and one our way down into the crater by 6:30. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining. The first animals we saw were the spotted hyenas walking up the road towards us. Then we passed the carcass of a cape buffalo which had been stripped down to the bones. We felt encouraged. There must be lions around.

Patrick turned the park upside down and shook it for the next 8 house trying to find the lions. During that time we saw many other animals including the smaller predators such as jackals and bat-eared fox. We also saw many more hyenas. But no lions. Patrick talked to each guide we passed and no one saw any lions that day.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion slept that day....

So when you see us - don't ask if we saw any lions in Africa. We would rather not talk about that! Ask about the black rhino, hippos, flamingos, elephants, zebras and giraffes etc.

lions - tanzania