NAIROBI PARK DIARY

Lionese lessons

Lions spend up to 18 hours a day simply 'lying' around

In Summary

• Lions wonder: 'But why do humans want to give us funny-sounding names?'

A lion lying around
A lion lying around
Image: GARETH JONES

Early one morning, a vervet monkey chattered the local bush news for a nearby treetop. Uharaaw rolled over and laughed as hard as a full-grown lion can laugh. Nearby, Roaruh the lioness purred to him, “What is it?”

Uharaaw replied joyfully, “The humans have called me Cheru and have images of me in many places, even on their little clicky machines. The monkey says I’m quite famous.”

“Wooaw,” coughed Roaruh. “But why do humans want to give us funny-sounding names?”

Uharaaw muttered, “I’m not sure, but the monkey says many of us have names like Ujanja, Mohawk, Sirikoi, Embakasi, Elsie, Mica, Sofie, Solo, Kitili, and so on.”

Roaruh lay quietly for a few minutes as she thought about the names. Suddenly, she had a revelation. “What if the humans actually like us and are giving us names because they care enough to want to know us?”

“That’s crazy,” grunted Uharaaw. “We already have our own lionese names that we give each other, mostly according to the way we sound and act. If only the humans could understand us, they could just call us by our real names!”

Just then, the monkeys chattered again, and they were both amazed at what was said.

A monkey said, “I have heard through the bush chatter from the marabous who live in the human place that some humans actually want to protect lions so they can live naturally in peace. That is why they give lions human-sounding names so when a particular lion does something, then it can become famous.”

As royalty, they received this news gracefully, yawned and fell asleep.

Apart from the lionese lessons, in reality, lions do spend up to 18 hours a day simply “lying” around. I guess that’s why they are called “Lions”.