In Samburu, Kenya there is a legend about a lioness who adopted an oryx calf. On the wall of the park gate there is a painting of this lioness and calf. When I was there the first time, my guide told me the story - a lioness who could not have cubs adopted oryx calves due to her mothering instinct. Supposedly it was absolutely true, witnessed by many people. Of course, it was quite hard to believe.
There's an elephant research camp in Samburu called "Save the Elephants," and when I got back from Samburu I contacted them about an elephant birth I'd seen there, to see if they wanted the photos. They did, and I corresponded with researcher and author Ian Douglas-Hamilton about them. As I looked at the Save the Elephants website I saw that they had a link to photos of this lioness with oryx. (I don't see them there currently). Later, I learned that a documentary was made by the daughter of Ian Douglas-Hamilton, who runs the research camp and also, with his wife, a lovely lodge called Elephant Watch Camp. I had the privilege to stay there in May when I went back to visit Albert, the baby elephant.
I couldn't find the documentary on DVD; it's called "Heart of a Lioness." I searched for it on animal Planet in vain. Then, last night, IT WAS ON. I was so excited when I saw it come on the kitchen television that I raced into the bedroom to Tivo it, somehow (unexplainably) dislocating my right shoulder in the process. Before I lost consciousness and then was raced (by my devoted and ever patient boyfriend) to St. Luke's ER, I fortunately had the presence of mind to get to the Tivo remote and hit record.
Lucky for you, Animal Planet is showing the program again Nov 24 and 25. YOU HAVE TO SEE IT!!! It is a fantastic and suspense filled true life drama about the adoption of calves by this lioness, and what happens. I have never enjoyed a documentary so much, nor been in such suspense. I can't imagine ANYONE not being wowed by this program!! In all truth, despite the fact shoulder dislocations are EXTREMELY painful, it was actually worth it....though I sure wish it hadn't happened and I'd caught one of the later showings! I've been trying to find this program since May when I last returned from Samburu, and I am so glad I finally did.
Samburu is my favorite place in Africa so far, and seeing the land, the animals and the people I have been lucky enough to come to know there was wonderful. But seeing through film the remarkable story of what happened there is so incredible, it's only slightly heightened by my personal experience. See for yourself! Don't miss it!