Interacting with ‘wild’ animals is a controversial topic. The problem is that when the lions reach a certain age, they can become unpredictable and consequently dangerous, especially to strangers. There have been cases where the animals have been drugged to enable the interaction to take place, and ended up being abused to death or sold to commercial hunters. Nevertheless, many argue that if the lions are kept responsibly, the money received from tourists makes a substantial contribution to the conservation of these magnificent animals. In the Casela Nature Parks in Mauritius, the lions, together with the other animals, seemed well treated.
During the walk, the lions are free to roam around, play with each other or just lay about. As a general rule, the visitors walk, or rather stumble, behind the lions at a distance. If the opportunity presents itself, one-by-one, the visitors can try to walk alongside the lions and pet them. In addition, the lions are motivated with treats in order to create some photo opportunities for the visitors.
Although, these lions are not wild, they are still capable of causing serious harm to humans. Therefore, before the walk, visitors are briefed on the safety measures to be taken during the adventure. For example, never crouch down because then the lions could see you as a playmate (or food). You should not run as that could trigger the hunting reflex of the lions…
The sticks in the hands of the rangers and visitors that appear in some of the photos do not serve as punishing devices. They are aids to help you stay upright if a lion jumps on you.
Casela Nature Parks is home to more than 1,800 animals, some of which are endemic to the island. Besides walking with lions, there are opportunities to interact with other animal species or take safaris on different types of vehicle. The park also offers a great selection of activities for adrenalin junkies. All this is set in a beautiful natural environment.