Valentin Gruener and Mikkel Legarth have something everyone wants, but no one can get: a lion that loves them. They didn’t buy her or drag her out of the wild, they are actually two conservationists that saved her when she was just a cub. She was abandoned by her pride and they found her – but the story gets much better than that.
When Sirga the lioness was just a cub, she was driven out from her pride. Valentin and Mikkel wouldn’t watch her die on her own, so they rescued her.
The two men are already fighting to save her species in Botswana, southern Africa, so what’s another little lion?
Sirga treated the two men like she would other lions, cuddling and spending her days with them.
They taught her how to hunt, so now she doesn’t even need them to help her get food.
“A pride had three cubs and two were killed before Sirga was abandoned without food. It happened on our land and we could not standby and watch her die.”
The two conservationists’ work with Sirga is a beacon of hope for the lion population in Africa. Her progress shows just how much humans can help the wildlife that is being threatened by farming and other human activities.
They didn’t want Sirga to be raised in a zoo, with endless lines of tourists passing by.
So, they raised her in her natural environment
She doesn’t care about other humans, only for Mikkel and Valentin. They didn’t want her to become desensitized.
“Wild lions are scared of people, the problem comes if you release a lion that is used to people in the wild, that can cause problems.”
They are going to make sure Sirga goes out on her own into the wild as a lion who doesn’t enjoy human companionship.
The Modisa Wildlife Project hopes to remove lions from areas where they face certain death after coming into conflict with farmers.
“If you release wild lions somewhere else, they will come straight back to where they were before because there is food there.”
In Botswana, all of the lions are protected by the government, making re-location tricky… but all of the work is worth it.