It’s late morning in October. Hours earlier we descended from the fog shrouded ridge of the Ngorongoro crater in in Tanzania. We’re driving along the grassy plain of the crater floor. In the distance we spot movement in the distance. There’s something is out there. We stop the land cruiser to investigate and peer through our binoculars into the dancing air refracting off the hot grassland in the distance.
Out of the shimmering air struts a lone male lion (Simba). He’s magnificent. He’s headed towards us, confident in his stature -The King of Beasts. In this moment this is his crater and there’s little doubt. We sit, spellbound by his presence as he calmly and confidently walks directly towards us. As the gap between us narrows, my concern heightens. Undaunted by our presence, he steps immediately behind our vehicle and continues on in the same direction, as if walking along an invisible bearing from which he will never waver.
We remain still, transfixed, until he again disappears into the distance. We saw other lions in the days before this moment, but something about this particular lion was different. He had the confidence and swagger of a rockstar. He was the King and if I didn’t know any better, it seemed as though he knew it too. Stand aside everyone; Mufasa is here.