Lioness love: An extraordinary bond
Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 6:19 PM -
This extraordinary bond can be summed up in one picture.
The photos were taken last year, but have gone viral across several news outlets this week.
"WE ARE GOING VIRAL!!! ;-) we are on TODAY.com, most shared article on NEW YORK Daily News!," Mikkel Bille Legarth posted on his Facebook page Tuesday.
Legarth founded the Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana with fellow animal conservationist Valentin Gruener.
The incredible image shows Gruener hugging a 110 pound wild lioness named Sirga, who had been found abandoned as a cub last February.
"One of our lion prides had cubs in the end of february and we were hoping that everything would work out well so the cubs could stay with their pride. Unfortunately all the cubs got killed, except for one – that one cub was instead pushed away from the pride and was severely dehydrated," the pair posted in their website's blog last year. "We quickly had to make a plan, so Valentin contacted the wildlife vet, who helped us get the right treatment and the right mixture of milk for a lion."
They continued to monitor the cub to see how the pride would respond, but when they showed no interest the duo decided to take her out and give her treatment.
"She was weighing less than 2kg, so Valentin put her on a drip, while we were in contact with the wildlife vet. The vet told us to give her a 100ml drip, which we did and she almost looked like a water balloon. After a few hours the drip was absorbed to her body and she slowly started to take the bottle. She was still weak for a few weeks, but she got healthier and healthier," the blog reads, adding that Sirga soon became the most spoiled and well-fed lion in Botswana.
To prevent excessive human contact, Sirga only interacts with Legarth and Gruener, but is still given plenty of space to roam freely in her natural habitat.
Modisa Wildlife Project was founded in 2012 and promotes sustainability and enhanced biodiversity in the region located just west of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, according to the group's website.
"Modisa also want to raise awareness across the globe on the necessity of sustaining the natural ecosystems that ensure a brighter future for the wildlife in Botswana," the website reads.
In Setswana, the local language in central Botswana, “Modisa” means guardian.
"True to this name, we work to guard the wildlife of Botswana," the group says.