The Lions of Que Que


Lions on the Prowl

The Lions of Que Que

Bill and Sid West’s Jena Group of Mines named after the big cats were a long way from town on dirt roads.  We still had leopard at Hillandale when we first broke ground there on our new house in 1956.  However here is an account of the last pride of Lions on the Globe and Phoenix Mine in Que Que in 1916.

The Lions of Que Que

Local sports set out in pursuit of a pride of lions reported seen at Sebakwe Poort.  The Nimrods tied up a couple of goats near their camp for bait. While they were enjoying their supper lions bounded into their midst, seized the goats and vamoosed.

Later that night, the lions visited the Moss Mine and killed a mule at Jim Harvie’s stable, near the Moss Store.  They only had one shotgun and watched helplessly in the moonlight as their mule was eaten.  Their house cat took its fill, the lions taking no notice of it at all.

The next morning Jim Harris and William Hogg, the Manager of the Moss Mine, went in pursuit of the lions.  Hogg shot and killed one.  He wounded another.   It charged him and smashed his gun held up to protect himself in the sudden onslaught.

Harris came to his comrade’s rescue.  He fired his last cartridge into the lion, but did not kill it outright.  It dropped Hogg and charged him, biting him severely on the arm but overwhelmed by its own wounds withdrew into the veld nearby and was subsequently found dead.

Hogg was badly mauled.  He died a day or so afterwards at the G. & P. Mine Hospital.  Harris recovered.

That night the remaining lions crossed the sands dump at the G. & P. Mine and proceeded to the road near the sports ground, stopping to drink at the culvert below the present school hostel.  At the nearby Primrose Mine a shaft was covered over with a few sticks and a mangy dog tied there for bait.  A lion made a grab at the dog and fell down the 60 foot shaft.  A railway employee valiantly followed on a rope.  He found  the lion in a crosscut of the shaft but his Mauser pistol miss-fired and jammed.  He retreated back up the rope and procured another rifle.  He shot the lion.

A huge crowd collected.  Some wag called out that the lion was coming up the rope.  Although it was the days of long skirts a considerable display of hose was noticeable as the ladies fled to safety.

The native population marched the dead lion triumphantly to Austen’s plot.

Losing three of their number the balance of the pride left this inhospitable area, to the relief of the Que Que residents.

Thanks to Ed Goldberg and Val Atkinson Barbour for copies of “Olden Que Que” Souvenir, to commemorate the Que Que Carnival Fete Day on June 9, 1945.   In it is  a collection of short stories from the pioneers about all sections of the community.  Unfortunately the author of this story is not identified.  If  any of you have some memorabilia to share  I would love to have it.