Famous Hoedspruit lion laid to rest

Matimba and his ‘wife’, Tamu, were taken in by the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to provide them a good home for their retirement years.

The Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit, Limpopo buried their famous roaring lion named Matimba on August 13 at the Centre.

Becky Lambert from the centre told Letaba Herald that Matimba’s story began 26 years ago. In 2014, when Mathimba was 21, the centre was asked if they would take Matimba in, together with his ‘wife’, Tamu, and provide them a good home for their retirement years.

Since they arrived, they became huge personalities at Moholoholo.

“The unconditional love between the pair was always a pleasure to witness, along with their comical relationship, as sweet gentle Tamu tames down old grumpy Matimba’s mood swings,” said Lambert.

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Lambert explained that over the past couple of months, Matimba’s age really started to catch up with him, and that it was already a miracle that he made it to 26 years old, considering their life expectancy is only 10 to 14 years of age in the wild.

She said that he began to show just how old he really was, gradually displaying less energy each day and struggling to walk, and the thought that maybe his time had come soon began to cross everyone’s mind.

One evening, staff at the centre heard a very loud bang and rushed to find the cause. It was the sound of Matimba collapsing into his feeding dish and hitting his head very hard. After this, he just managed to regain enough strength to stand while had to Tamu physically support him to walk.

“The next day the staff had a real and difficult discussion, which concluded in a unanimous agreement that it was best for Matimba and his quality of life to put him to sleep. After that, the vet came out early to perform the procedure and out of respect for such a prolific character at the rehab, we decided to have a burial for Matimba with all the staff and volunteers. It was an extremely sad occasion, but ultimately what was best,” she said.

Vets putting Mathimba to sleep.

Volunteers and staff burying mighty Mathimba.

Lambert concluded by saying that Tamu is coping with the loss of her mate much better than one might have anticipated. However, they are monitoring her very closely to make sure she remains happy and healthy with no signs of stress. Comments from sorrowful animal lovers were flowing at the Moholoholo Rehab Centre’s Facebook page.

“My heart is breaking. I am sending love, peace and good wishes to the staff and volunteers at Moholoholo. So sad, but thank you to all who dedicate your time, support, love and care to these animals. Without Moholoholo, he would not have lived such a long and peaceful life,” one of the mourning community members commented.

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