Do you think you really love the person next to you? Do you, do you really? If the answer is “yes”, then you won’t mind to compare your kind of love with the kind of love you’re going to discover below. What I’m talking about? I’m talking about a british documentary film, “Daniel and our cats”, produced and directed by Julika Kennaway which tells the story of a married couple in Namibia who owned two leopards and a lion before they were cruelly taken away. The documentary originally aired in the UK on Animal Planet on 25 December, 2007 and – what a shame – it took me a few years to discover it.
This award-winning documentary film tells the fateful story of Catherine, a 30 year old French woman arrived in Namibia in search of Africa’s big cats. In the midst of the desert she married Daniel, known locally as ‘the lion man’. Fascinated by his extraordinary ways with animals, Catherine lived an unusual and idyllic life in the remote Namibian hills with two leopards, a black-maned lion and her new husband. But one fateful night everything she loved was snatched away. Daniel, Catherine and their cats were on their way to a film shoot when their cats were confiscated by the authorities at the Namibia/South Africa border. Without the right paperwork they stood no chance with the authorities. Daniel was imprisoned and the cats taken to a secret location. Following Daniel’s eventual release, viewers watch as he and Catherine are forced to start a new life in South Africa with a baby lion cub, whilst still battling for their other cats.
When Daniel is finally able to track his cats down in Namibia, incredible footage shows the reunion between him and cats, as all three cats remember Daniel, highlighting their unique bond. But as Daniel begins the long journey home to Catherine and his lawyers in a desperate attempt to reclaim his cats, yet another tragedy befalls them all: Daniel dies in a car crash. The car is being hit just when he tells Catherine – on the phone – he’s very optimistic about their cats’ future. The rest of the story is just incredible: Catherine continues the battle for their cats and, after 2 years, she gets them back and makes sure they will have a peaceful life in Amani, a wild reservation. In swahili, “amani” means “peace” and Catherine says, by the end of the movie, that a peaceful life is just what she wants for her and Daniel’s cats and the rest of their lives. After making sure her and Daniel’s cats will have a beautiful life, Catherine finally moves back to Namibia, the place Daniel loved the most and the place where they shared the happiest moments and their lives.
It’s a bitter-sweet story and it’s incredible to discover such a strong bond between humans and animals. The strangest fact is when Daniel visits his cats and – even after 2 years – they recognize them: their love (let’s call it love, cause that’s what it is) for the people that cared for them is un-altered. It’s a great story that highlightens the fact that sometimes animals are way better than humans: they don’t hurt unless they’re hungry or unless they’re provoked. And they never forget, no matter what. Ain’t that a bitch-slap lesson for humans? Secondly, it’s a great story that highlightens the fact that sometimes true love never dies: it survives everything, even the people that once shared it. Ain’t that a bitch-slap for those who don’t believe in it?
To make it short, “Daniel and our Cats” is a personal, true story of love, loss and healing, told in Catherine’s own and charming words. And here it goes a little spoiling, I can’t help but sharing this, sorry: after a few years, Catherine married another man and eventually had a baby girl named Tara. So it’s a happy ending… in the end. Photo Credits: Animal Planet