The Last Breath of a Queen - A Lioness Passes On
How long had she hidden in the bush? Crouched down, low on her belly, trying to keep her ears from flicking and her tail from twitching. Her eyes were so tired, all she wanted to do was sleep, but she continued to keep a wary eye on anything that moved around her.
The past was a blur to her now, she couldn't recall how she got separated from her pride, which way they went or how long ago it had been. Her stomach growled, her tongue begged for water, and her vision was beginning to trick her.
The waterhole was close, she had been there many times before. From her view in the bush it looked so far away. Could she make it without being detected? Or would the hyenas move in for an attack? Her muscles were weak now, it took such an effort for her to stand up, but she did and took a moment to steady herself.
She stepped out into the open and began what seemed the longest walk of her life. She knew her days were almost done, but thirst drove her out into the vulnerable open area. There were days in her past when she could walk alone and stand tall and confident, her pride always near. She helped hunt and kill, take care of cubs, and protect the pride with strength and vigor.
Her isolated walk was now full of hesitation and weakness, fear and desperation, but she foraged on, because she was a lion, and lions never give up.
All of Africam became aware of her last steps, the camera followed her, the forum and chat rooms were talking constantly. Who was she, from which pride, why is she so thin, how did she get to be alone...the questions went on and on. And while the debate continued, the lioness continued her stoic walk, one step at a time.
She realized her body was not going to allow her to go much further, and soon gave in to the need to rest, laying down in the grass. Chatter continued, more questions asked, but all those didn't really matter in the end. The lioness laid her head down and breathed until it was time for her last breath...and then she was gone.
A sadness fell over the Africam family, as losing such a magnificent animal no matter what the circumstances is always hard to watch. As sad as it seemed, this lioness was indeed one of the lucky ones. A lions life is full of conflict, enemies, and losses, as is their death. It is rare that a lion dies without facing a fight. The hyenas often find the hurt or dying lion and take advantage of its weakness, surrounding and killing it in a frenzy of brutal and constant attack. The sound of the lion and the hyenas voices penetrate the air telling the listening animals that this is indeed a fight to the death.
Tears and sighs were felt as we watched the lonely lioness peacefully die in the dry grass. Her lifetime was perhaps one of honor and bravery, it is only fitting that her death be the same.
No matter what her past, her successes, her failures, in the end she left with dignity and pride. As viewers, we were privileged to be able to see a rare moment in the life of a lion, a last breath free from fear and attack. While our memories may be sad and upsetting, we might also celebrate that this weak and lonely lion was able to pass on without violence determining her end.
(Warning: Some viewers may find the footage disturbing)