A Lion Named Blondie (Page 3)
He was a stock raider, a cattle killer, and he was terrorizing the local tribe of herders near a camp in central Tanzania.
March 30, 2010
Michel flicked his safety off his .450 Dakota rifle and I exchanged my bolt-action Rigby for The Old Girl, my William Evans .500 Nitro double. We advanced line abreast toward the bait tree.
Suddenly Mandindi yipped and leaped in excitement. He jabbered something in Swahili and Michel turned to me with the happiest words I’ve heard in a long time, “Mandindi sees him. He’s dead.”
Blondie had been lying on a slope of ground leading down to a game trail. That’s why I had only seen his head and neck. My shot had been perfect, shattering his spine, breaking his neck, switching off his lights. He had simply rolled once, down the embankment, which is why Michel had been unable to see him from the blind.
For a photo recap of Cam's epic adventure, check out the gallery.
Blondie was in tip-top shape, fat and glossy and long of mane. Dining on filet mignon does that to you. Michel said he was between six and seven years old, a prime male who has already dominated a pride and passed on his DNA. He would have been ousted by a younger male within the year.
As we prepared to take photos, Mandidi respectfully approached Michel and took off his hat. He spoke in Swahili and I didn’t understand the meaning, but it appeared to be something very serious, almost reverential.
“Nicole and the girls came to camp the day before yesterday,” Michel said to me. I nodded. They were little darlings.
“Yesterday we shot a big elephant and this morning we shot Blondie,” Michel continued.
I nodded again. This was all true.
“To Mandindi, it’s yet more proof-positive that my youngest daughter Leandra is Mtoto wa Mungu. The very next morning after she gets to camp, we shoot a 70-pounder. The next day we kill Blondie. Don’t forget, Mandindi was with me a month ago when we hunted Blondie for 21 days and never fired a shot.”
Mandindi looked at me with a big white-toothed smile, his eyes as happy as his face.
“Tell Mandindi I think he’s absolutely right,” I said warmly and hugged the tracker for all I was worth.