True African Lion Hunters Tale
Remember Mungo Park?
No, not in London or New York, but here in Africa. Well, sort of. His name was in fact, Mungo Park and he was an early, Scottish-born, British explorer. As an explorer for the British African Association from 1794, he had two major explorations of West Africa until his death, in Africa at the age of 35 in 1806, while looking for Timbuktu. As Mungo tells it and I recount, the story about some West African lion hunters goes something like this.
Many years ago…somewhere in Africa…in Parks time, there were a people on the Gambia, who were troubled by a huge marauding, male lion with the power to kill large cattle and as a result, did a lot of damage in the district. So much so, that a posse of local lion hunters were put together to hunt down and kill the monster. After searching for some time, they found the critter lurking in a thicket. Having guns in those days, they were much braver than the earlier posses of long ago and promptly shot it. Well that was to be the end, right? No! In fact, it became the beginning of a strange, tragic and somewhat amusing incident of what happened to these brave, but not too clever, lion hunters.
The lion was naturally upset for being shot and more so for being wounded and sprang furiously out of the bushes at its assailants. Not being quite aware of the severity of its wound, it fell short of the mark and lay there on the ground, stunned. The happy-go-lucky hunters made a hasty retreat and looking back, found no chase in the lion, so they stopped…running that is. Behind them, the lion lay crouched, exploding with sounds of great anger. The lion hunters, with time to think, arrived upon an idea to capture this now disabled monster instead. The reason for this clever plan, rather than shooting it, was to sell it to some European traders at the coast for a fortune. Having agreed this was a good idea among themselves, they simply had to hatch a plan to capture him.
While the intrepid hunters were creating plans one after another, an old man among them had a scheme of his own. His idea was simple, build a thatch house that the group could carry on their shoulders toward the lion and drop it on him. All sprang to work and with many laths and thatch later, the first part was completed. The second part of the plan was executed by the gun-toting hunters, carrying the make-shift, all-in-one, hut-cage on their shoulders, towards the lion. Before they left, all agreed that if attacked by the lion, their precaution would be to drop to the ground with all safely inside the cage. They then would take action against the lion, shooting through the sturdy laths from inside the hut-cage in perfect safety.
The approach towards the lion was slow and cautious and hopes were running high. A short distance from their prey, their plan proved over-ambitious, when suddenly, the once-stunned lion, now revived, came careening straight for them. The men with one accord, dropped the thatch house on top of the lion with all of them still inside, making a ready meal for the lion. All those watching, were mortified by what happened, because the men of that district were known for their superior stature and bravery. It appears planning was not one of their strong suites.
It so happens that no traveler in his right mind will repeat this story in that district ever again.
The moral of the story you say? Be happy with what you have, unless you can think big with proven assets.