Many people prefer to start their day with a hug, but few do it with a fully grown lion.
Sirga, the nine-year-old lioness, sees a father figure in conservationist Valentin Gruener.
Almost ten years later, the guy and the big cat had formed an inseparable relationship. Moreover, Valentin Gruener claims that Sirga’s natural feline head rub welcome has left him a cauliflower ear.
Her mom abandoned her as a young cub in 2012, then she has since built a great friendship with her human carer.
Sirga lives with German Valentin, 34, and his girlfriend Sarah, 33, at the Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana, where they stroll, play, and even swim together.
“I guess Sirga thinks of me as a best friend. She loves to give me a big hug. She does rub her head on mine a lot, just like a domestic cat, Sirga has never been aggressive towards me but I have huge respect for the power she has. I am sure she is aware that I am very different.”
The nine-year-old African queen of the plain was born after her parents were apprehended and transferred to a rehabilitation cell for slaughtering animals.
Sirga’s mother, on the other hand, had stopped feeding her, and she was on the verge of dying unless someone stepped in to help.
To protect 7,500 hectares of wildlife, Valentin co-founded the Modisa Wildlife Project. In addition, visitors from across the world may stay in the region to enjoy the awe-inspiring African bush.
Valentin stated further:
“I guess Sirga thinks of me as a best friend. I doubt that she sees me as another lion but simply her mate who she has spent the last 10 years with. Sirga loves being out in her 2,000 hectares together with me, hunting is her favorite activity but not so much the killing part but the stalking up to animals quietly and then giving them a good chase.
“Often it never even gets to the chase and Sirga simply stalking up close and we sit and watch while the animals have no idea we are there, that is her favorite time I think. She also loves to stand up on her hind legs and give me a big hug every time I see her.”
“Sirga roams her area and acts just like any wild lion. She does hunt and I sort of join her. Of course, I cannot chase and takedown an antelope, but as lions mostly hunt in prides, she needs a little bit of assistance when she catches bigger prey because she cannot hold it down from behind and get to the throat to kill it at the same time.”
“To end the suffering I then simply cut the throat of her prey while she holds it down. She is also used to educate people, not only about lions but also all other Wildlife and about conservation work.”
“Her following on social media is getting pretty big and to also get information to people who cannot visit here I am also doing a podcast about the Kalahari which is called the Kalahari Diaries in which I try to highlight in an entertaining but informative way about some of the conservation challenges in southern Africa,” he concluded.