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Soul of a Lion: One Woman's Quest to Rescue Africa's Wildlife Refugees

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  231 ratings  ·  58 reviews
For animal lovers, nature enthusiasts, and the vast readership for gripping true-life stories, this African saga is a must-read adventure. It chronicles the unique Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia, where Marietavan der Merwe and her family, former wealthy cattle farmers, have sold land to buy and care for embattled wildlife. We meet Sam, the "AIDS" lion infected by mi ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by National Geographic
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Community Reviews

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Barbara Bennett
This is my own book, forthcoming from National Geographic in September. Of course I gave it five stars! Who wouldn't rate their own book this way? :)
Holly Weiss
"Compassion and Care Protect the Souls of the Needy"

Buddha said, “May all that have life be delivered from suffering.”

Published by National Geographic, “Heart of a Lion” reveals the care given to injured, orphaned or otherwise challenged animals in the Harnas Wildlife foundation in Namibia, Africa. A contrast to “Gorillas in the Mist” and “The Cry of the Kalahari” where the animals were sought out in their natural habitat and studied, this book paints a discerning, enjoyable, but not romanticiz
Oct 13, 2010 Dimitri marked it as to-read
Daniel L.
In Praise of Creatures Large and Great

Ask any animal lover. I mean true animal lover. He or she will tell you that, contrary to what most people may believe, each animal has a purpose - indeed, feelings and even a soul. Animals give meaning to life, a sense of purpose and, oftentimes, a means of healing. Such is certainly the case of Zion, one of several lions rescued by Marieta van der Merwe, a white Afrikaans-speaking woman from Namibia who founded an animal rescue shelter and refuge named H
The work that Marietta van der Merwe and her family have done to establish a wild animal sanctuary in Africa is definitely worth reading about. They have also started a school for local children who otherwise wouldn't get any education, as well as a health clinic for native people who were badly in need of care. Her story is inspiring, but I think it could have been told in a more natural way. Although the author (a frequent volunteer at Harnas) is an English professor, she could have used a str ...more
Carolyn Macleod
Soul of a Lion is a touching novel that you won't be able to put down until the very last word. You'll feel like you're the one in the wilderness of Africa, saving animals after being abused or mistreated.

This is a great book for not only animal lovers, but also anyone who enjoys reading about real-life adventures. Barbara Bennett did an excellent job molding this book out of dozens of amazing experiences and stories. Great novel!
"Soul of a Lion" is more than just the story of the Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia. It's a story of love, courage, life (and death), and inspiration.

Barbara Bennett spent time living and working with Marieta Van Der Merwe and her family on their wildlife preserve in sub-Saharan Africa. During that time, she got to know the animal and human families there and learned their history. She writes movingly and honestly about her experiences and the challenges that the family has faced since the
Fantastic book. I am so glad I bought it and read it. I would have to say it was life-changing... I even emailed Harnas and asked them how or what I can do to volunteer. I got a packet back the next day, and will consider going to Africa one day to volunteer. I am passionate about helping animals, and Marieta sounds like someone I would love to meet one day. The only thing that is preventing me from giving this book 5-stars is that half the time when Bennett talked about the personal lives about ...more
I picked this up thinking it would be an interesting look at wildlife refugee centers, and have to admit I was slightly skeptical at first. I wondered whether raising orphaned animals in captivity was really beneficial to the survival of wild species if the animals could never roam free. Boy did this book make me a believer. And what more, this book is so much more than just a story about animals. It is an incredible and inspirational story about the woman, Marieta van der Merwe, who changed her ...more
Let me start out by saying that I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

If you are an animal lover, read Soul of a Lion.

If you are a biography lover, read Soul of a Lion.

If you are interested in strong women, read Soul of a Lion.

If you like Africa, read Soul of a Lion.

If you like to travel, read Soul of a Lion.

This book is so wonderful. It tells the story of Marietta van der Merwe who started the Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia. She rescues and cares for every animal that is brought to her, givi
Martha Bratton
I'm thrilled, frightened, happy and sad all at the same time. Learning about the Harnas wildlife rescue project and the other good work that has spun out from the original rescue of one baby animal being sold by the roadside for money to buy alcohol.

Marieta has fulfilled the dreams of so many dedicated animal lovers, but gosh has she paid a price for it. It is a story of somebody who goes all in for what she believes in--something few let themselves do. I will love looking at the YouTube videos
Amazing book for any animal lover...especially ones who love african wildlife :] It is an amazing journey through new life, old life, death, love, and adventure!! The ultimate best book i have ever read and wish I was there and experiencing every sentence. Especially the part with the cheetah, jaguar, and lion cubs!! Adorable and an amazing book, everyone should read!
Doreen Arnold
LOVED THIS BOOK!! True life adventure, triumph and heartbreak at the Harnas wildlife rescue. Not just for animal lovers although Tarali and Carol ann may find it disturbing that a full grown lion sleeps on the owners bed! AWESOME!! Unconditional love can heal the most wounded soul. I rarely read books twice , but this is one book that I will read over and over.
What a great book. If you love non-fiction or animals, you'll love this!

I love non-fic like this, that keeps you interested, but is easy to read in bits and pieces. This book is light and easy to read, but full of great stories, emotion, and compelling information. Volunteering at Harnas is now #1 on my 'bucket list'.
Pamela Barrett
What can be more enticing then an opportunity to cuddle and nap with a baby Cheetah? How about feeding a baby Giraffe, or playing with orphaned Baboons? When Barbara Bennett thought about writing a book about her experiences as a volunteer at Harnas Wildlife rescue in Namibia Africa, she soon realized that a more important and interesting story was about the woman who founded it—Marieta van der Merwe. She, along with her family run Harnas; a dream which began when Marieta and her husband Nick re ...more
The author is an English professor at NC State with a love of animals. When she had earned a semester sabbatical, she decided she wanted to do some volunteer work with animals. Some research led her to the Harnas website and, following a chain of events, that is where she spent about two weeks - only to go back on many other occasions. The book is the account of how the van der Merwe family began the refuge in eastern Namibia and their efforts to rescue wild animals and preserve various species ...more
Cat Chiappa
This was a special book for me because I had many of the same experiences as the author. I volunteered at Harnas in Aug/Sept of 2008 and had the privilege of encountered almost all of the animals that she mentioned. My favorite were the bat eared foxes and Cleo and Pride who I slept with one night. Parts of the book are bittersweet as some of the wonderful animals have passed on including Klippie and Cleo, but as the author illustrates, this is a part of life. If you love animals, I highly recom ...more
I was really impressed by this book. An Afrikaans couple in Namibia initially run a cattle farm (as it is called in Africa) but gradually turn it into a wildlife refuge as they see a need in a place with dwindling places for wild animals to go. They also are willing to adopt infants and disabled animals. The farm grows into Harmas Wildlife Refuge and is supported by Angelina Jolie and Animal Planet. The book would seem to be very commercial as the celebrity monikers would indicate but it is not. ...more
I enjoyed reading the story of a native African woman's journey to save orphaned, injured, or otherwise helpless wildlife by creating a sanctuary. The book is extremely well-written; the author is an English professor who visited the sanctuary as a volunteer. Life in Africa is not easy, and a wildlife sanctuary cannot survive without involving the local community (especially tribes) and without opening up to volunteers and other eco-tourists. This is a story of success, and left me feeling like ...more
This is an engageing, spirited, emotional story of life, love, loss, and growth. I could hardly put it down, so interesting are all the stories entertwined and connected by Harnas and the van der Merwe family. You will find yourself falling into their stories, and wanting to become a part of the stories as well.
I was so excited to read this book....then so disappointed in how poorly it was written. The story of the refuge is fantastic. I wish there was more connection to just an animal or two rather than so many stories; there seemed to be so much jumping around and I just couldn't wait to reach the end. I really wanted to love the book, but just couldn't. It was obvious the author wanted to tell the story well but I thought that we only scratched the surface. If the readers were given more depth into ...more
Africa has such a treasure in its wildlife, yet most native people consider that wildlife a nuisance and/or a meal, so they have no qualms about destroying it. But occasionally there are people who recognize the animals for the value they have in just being animals, and work to save them. This is the story of one of those people, and the Harnas Wildlife Foundation she started, as told by someone who visited and volunteered there and just couldn't get the place out of her head. I loved reading th ...more
Now I warned my husband that once I read this, I was going to want to visit Harnas. How can you not want to go when you have been introduced to the people and the animals that make it all happen?

Mixed in between the stories of all of the animals and how they came to be at Harnas and how their existence there has touched so many lives, you found you are in awe of Marieta and her dream and passion and want to have a part in some of it. Not only to see these beautiful creatures up close in all thei
This is a wonderful book about the Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia - the van der Merwe family who founded it, the animals at the refuge, and the volunteers who work there. The author tells thrilling (and frightening) stories of the work with the animals. Anyone passionate about working with animals will love this book and probably want to volunteer at the refuge.

I had to chuckle through some of it, though. The author so obviously loves the family and the refuge that she absolutely gushes
Interesting book about the life of Marieta Van der Merwe and her family. They have developed a wildlife refuge called Harnas in Namibia.
Barbara Bennett was a voulenteer at Harnas and has written this account to honor the work of Marieta and shed light on the developing problem of wildlife conservation in the African nations. As with the book THREE CUPS OF TEA by Greg Mortenson, the book really could have made a better article in OUTDOOR MAGAZINE or some other appropriate periodical, rather than
This is the inspiring story of Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia, Marieta van der Merwe (the woman who started it), and the over 400 animals who call Harnas home. The author does a good job of bringing her readers into the center of the action with compelling tales of the animals, the volunteers who help care for them, and Marieta's family; and she widens the scope to include the plight of Africa's animals. This is an important and interesting book, and I would recommend it to anyone who lov ...more
Marsha Nelson
Soul of a Lion is the story of Harnas, a wildlife rescue and rehabilition "farm" in Namibia. The author invites the reader to experience Harnas from her eyes as a volunteer and as a friend of the family that created the refuge. I found the stories of the family, the animals and the volunteers who have assisted to be warm and heartwarming. I was also impressed with the authors ability to look at and assess the issues in Namibia in a neutral voice. I must read for animal and nature lovers.
This is a non-fiction story about a family living on a wildlife preserve in Africa. The story is interesting, but the book reads like an article in National Geographic, just very, very long. If you like reading these kind of articles and don't mind that this one will go on and on, then by all means, read this. Many others seem to find this type of writing their cup of tea. I guess I'm not one of them.
"If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected." Chief Seattle
If one didn't hold this belief before reading, it would certainly be held upon completion of this book. This was a very passionate, humorous and educational read for me....a lucky win from Goodreads Giveaways.
Bill Warden
This was an absolutely amazing book. The emotions and journey the book takes you through are really heartfelt. I don't mind saying that I have already looked up Harnas and I'm trying to figure out when I can get there to either visit or volunteer.

It's worth taking a few days to read the book and understand more about the human / animal interactions.
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