And ok, such interaction didn’t happen overnight – it was the result of two weeks of intense ‘work’, where I spent as much time as possible with my favorite cub, Thembile, a bewitching 7 month old female. ‘Thembile’, I was quickly informed by my wonderful local colleagues, means ‘trust’ – somewhat ironic considering that particular little lioness was, at the time, the most unpredictable of all four cubs. But she possessed the most beguiling amber eyes, her feisty temperament was all lion to me, and from that very first moment, I was hooked. As wonderful as all four lions are, Thembile instantly symbolized something special to me. During my time at Masuwe, the lion reserve at Vic Falls, I learned a lot about lions and the wild, wonderful nature around me. I learned of the lions' plight in Africa, how their numbers are rapidly declining, and how it’s up to us to fix a problem that we ultimately created. I also learned that a relationship with a lion, as with almost every living creature, grows with time and the more you put into the relationship, the more you get out of it. During my second and final week, I could almost feel the minutes with Thembile pass by – far too quickly – so I opted to ‘cub sit’ as often as possible . Cub sitting involves spending your post-lunch free-time with the lions rather than returning to the hotel for pool-time and chill-out. But hey, I didn’t come to Africa to sunbathe! And besides, I found hanging with the lions to be much more refreshing than any rest! The Lion Encounter team at Masuwe is made up of some of the most amazing people I’ve been lucky enough to meet, and there were always willing supervisors to help me with my daily cub sits. Through spending these extra hours with Thembile and her gorgeous and far easier-going sister Thuli, our friendship grew. She began to respond to my voice, conceded to my strokes, showed me an unusual patience, and eventually rushed to her enclosure wall to greet me. ‘She likes you!’, smiled one of the scouts – and I felt like I'd won something very precious indeed!