Ifrane. The Last King of Atlas / Ostatni król Atlasu

Yet before leaving the Rif mountains behind, suddenly a weirdest thing happened. A mysterious force teleported us from Morocco to the heart of… European Alps. Such was at least our first impression when we arrived at the town of Ifrane situated 1665m over the sea level.

A modern city a the very center of the Middle Atlas was built in 1928 by the French and became a luxury resort for rich European expats wishing to find some rest from the hot climate of northern Africa.

Nim jeszcze zostawiliśmy daleko za sobą góry Rif stała się rzecz niesłychana. Wprost z Maroka jakaś nieodgadniona siła teleportowała nas w samo serce… europejskich Alp. Takie było bowiem nasze pierwsze skojarzenie gdy dojechaliśmy do miejscowości Ifrane położonej na wysokości 1665 metrów nad poziomem morza.

Nowoczesne miasto w samym sercu środkowego Atlasu założyli w 1928 roku Francuzi i stało się ono komfortowym resortem dla bogatych Europejczyków pragnących właśnie tutaj odpocząć od gorącego klimatu Afryki.


Perhaps Ifrane would not stay in my memory that vividly if not for the peculiar sculpture. A legend says that the Atlas lion got sculpted by an Italian inmate who was kept here during the World Way 2nd. And while this is not true (newest research suggest that the sculpture was created a dozen or so years earlier) it tells a sad, yet true story.

A Barbary Lion was supposedly a biggest cat in Africa. Some even claim, that it had no rivals in the entire world. One XIXth century hunter described a meeting with a specimen allegedly measuring 3.25 m (10,7 feet) in length and weighting as much as 300 kilograms (660 lb). This beautiful animal with a majestic muzzle had however failed to endure meeting with another predator, humans. The last specimen got shot in 1942. Its memorial now stands in the center of Ifrane.

Być może Ifrane nie zapisało by się tak bardzo w mojej pamięci, gdyby nie obecny tutaj osobliwy pomnik. Legenda mówi, że lew z Atlasu wyrzeźbiony został przez włoskiego więźnia przetrzymywanego tutaj podczas drugiej wojny światowej. I choć to nieprawda (najnowsze badania wskazują że rzeźba powstała kilkanaście lat wcześniej) to opowiada on smutną, niestety prawdziwą historię.

Lew Berberyjski był ponoć największym kotem w Afryce. Niektórzy sądzą nawet, że nie miał sobie równych na świecie. Pewien XIX-wieczny myśliwy opisał spotkanie z osobnikiem, który, według niego, miał mierzyć aż 3,25 metra długości i ważyć nawet 300 kilogramów. To piękne zwierzę o jakże majestatycznym pysku nie przetrwało niestety spotkania z innymi drapieżnikami, ludźmi. Ostatni osobnik został zabity w 1942 roku. I to właśnie on upamiętniony jest dziś w centrum Ifrane.

Ifrane Lion

At present, WildLink International in cooperation with the Oxford University are conducting research on the reintroduction of the Barbary Lions. It is a arduous process and it is hard to say whether it will prove successful. Hope lies with the cubs under care of the zoo in Austin, Texas. See for yourselves who are the rulers of Atlas doing.

Obecnie WildLink International przy współpracy z uniwersytetem Oxfordu prowadzi są badania nad reintrodukcją lwów berberyjskich. To proces żmudny i wciąż nie wiadomo czy realny. Cała nadzieja we lwiątkach znajdujących się pod opieką zoo w Austin, w Teksasie. Zobaczcie jak prezentują się władcy Atlasu.


50 thoughts on “Ifrane. The Last King of Atlas / Ostatni król Atlasu

  1. What an amazing creature and so sad that the human inclination was to shoot them all into extinction. Interesting that Oxford is trying to reintroduce them. I wonder if the intention is to set them free.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Therefore it was a horror for Christians and the lions both. Do you recognize how people are always more interested to watch bad things happen that the good ones? Once, people watched the games in the Roman arenas, now they would acts of terrorism, crimes etc. on TV…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. These are the moments when I am not proud being a human…
      We have stayed for 3 weeks in Morocco, we had a car, so we could see a lot of things not being tied by any hotel bookings etc. Still, we were not able to see everything.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great links, Maciek, the young cubs were especially adorable.
    Where would we be without the zoos of the world? Each one doing great work. Not the best places for the wildlife of the world (natural habitat would be better). However, in our current phase of stripping nature’s order, zoos are, at least, safe havens for many species.
    Interesting to see (and read) about Ifrane. I googled to get more info. It surprised me to find this city, and the obvious affluence. I would not have expected to see such diversity within Morocco. So Thank You for this eye opening post, Maciek… :)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are most welcome. Ifrane was a big surprise to us as well!
      As for the zoos, I would only support those where programs like this take place, where the staff has a certain goal with regards to animal species protection etc. Otherwise, if the animals are just for show and they could be living well in the wild – I have mixed feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I agree with you. It is such a shame that the human race (as a whole) places so little value upon the lives of other species. Having said that, Maciek, I know there are many zoos around the world who do offer protection and programmes to enhance the lives of many animals, some who would otherwise become extinct. Like you, I too have ‘mixed feelings’… We do not live in an ‘ideal’ world…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. We can do as much as we can, we can work to bring some the species, but then… how long will they last? How long before our kids, grand kids decide there is no enough space for both them and the animals? There is hardly any bright future for animals…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It would be lovely indeed Monica! They have looked around the world for lions who had traces of the Barbary lions DNA and they mixed them in order to get the closest to the original. Not the same, but almost the same ;-)
      Thanks and have a good day!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed it was, I remember us putting on our jumpers. Felt like Summer in the mountains.
      You have set up a very nice site there! Looks like lots are moving sites to self hosting. Was it hard? Did You move all the content?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was hard for me to move to self hosting, but I am not very good with computers and I am still learning. It is more expensive also, I will do a post soon on the problems I have encountered. Thnks for your support 😄

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, this is such a lovely thing to read :-) As for the lions, makes me sad every time I go back to this post. They must have been quite a sight. Can you imagine a 300kg lion running wild? Stunning!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I’m a total animal lover and nature lover myself so that part was so sad! Such gorgeous animals!!! I’d love to be a photographer for Natural Geographics or just hang out with them to see all the beauty they get to see and witnesss TRUE wildlife in THEIR element!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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