Dinner with Big Cats takes the concept of cage diving to greater extremes

One naturalist gets unfathomably close to lions in the wild

As part of the latest TV stunt, Dinner with Big Cats tracker Boone Smith sits in a one-inch-thick acrylic box in the wilds of Africa. After scattering chunks of meat around the perimeter, he lays a dead wildebeest carcass on top of the box, climbs inside and waits for the lions to find him.

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“I’ve got an addiction to adventure,” says Smith, who was born on an Idaho cattle ranch, learnt to be a tracker as a child and has been searching for predators in the wild for 20 years. “But I didn’t know if
 it was going to last five minutes or five hours.” Two males take a closer look. Inches away, they start devouring the fresh corpse. Smith can feel their breath and smell the blood, as he narrates for the documentary… “mouthfuls of ribcage… listen to the bones popping”.

Then things get thrilling when a lion begins dragging the box away. Luckily the box gets caught in a bush, stopping the big cat in its tracks…

“We didn’t buy the box at Walmart, we brought in world-renowned experts to deal with the acrylic,” says Boone.

Boone spent six hours in the box, but says the first 20 minutes was most thrilling. “They were circling and figuring us out,” explains Boone. “The next five hours was watching them doing their thing and watching their behaviour.”

“To be so close and see the facial expressions, to smell them, the blood and the guts… it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen,” explains Boone.

“It’s not as accessible as shark diving,” says Boone, “please don’t try this yourselves”.

Watch Dinner with Big Cats at 8pm tonight on Nat Geo Wild (Sky 528).


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