About a month ago The Diary posted an entry called 'Another Village', here, which described a village in Africa which, in so very many ways, is just like Kilchoan. It's a fishing village, the people farm, the children attend a local primary school, they have a restaurant and a church, and they have a thriving tourist industry. But the village differs from ours in one important way.
Their village, as can be seen from this track, has wild cats - as we do - but it has several species, ranging from the genet which came into our Lodge's dining room in the evening and fascinated us with its delicate beauty, through civets, servals and leopards to the owner of these 'pug marks', a full-grown male African lion. We live with our wild cats and they live with theirs. The difference is that, if we bumped into one of ours on a dark night we expect it to run away. Their big ones don't.
One evening at the Lodge we were enjoying a gin before supper when our guide - that's him in the picture, Goodluck by name, looking at the tracks of a lion which visited the Lodge during the night - called to ask if we wanted to see a lion. Of course we did, so we joined him in a drive in the open-topped Land Rover to the point where the beast had been seen - lying beside the path the staff followed, day and night, from the Lodge to their village. And, while our torches held the glowing coals that were the lion's eyes two men on a bicycle stopped and asked what we were doing. "Watching a lion," we said. "Really?" they said, climbed back on their bicycle, and rode off.
So far, none of the good people who live in Saadani National Park in Tanzania have been killed by a lion. The tourists certainly won't be as, when we went for a walk across the park, we were accompanied by Mr Sumaye, the large man carrying a Kalashnikov, and Goodluck. But, on average, forty other villagers in that country are killed each year and many more injured. One lion alone killed thirty-five people before he was despatched. These good people die in the name of conservation, in the interests of Tanzania's precious tourist industry, for the sake of the preservation of a species which, if it ranged across the lands of West Ardnamurchan, we would shoot like vermin.