Lockdown: Lions in Kruger Park enjoying the road in South Africa
On this track in the famous Kruger Park in South Africa, jeeps pass by regularly, full of enthusiastic tourists, ready to take pictures of wild animals. But because of the coronavirus, there are no safaris in the natural park. The roads are empty. Although, these lions enjoyed the rest and stretched out on the asphalt for a nap.
Sooner or later, the animals would start to notice that humans have disappeared… Sure enough, these lions are now taking advantage of the corona crisis that is gripping the world. Finally, rest, you can almost see the clean sleepers thinking.
“These lions usually hide in the bushes for traffic. Now they enjoy the freedom in the park without us,” says park spokesperson Isaac Phaala
Normally very busy
Park ranger Richard Sowry was able to photograph the pack of grunting lions, including some cubs, on the road near a lodge in the park on Wednesday. It is, therefore, a road that is usually very busy with tourists. But since March 25, no one can be seen after Kruger – like other wildlife parks – closed its doors due to the corona crisis.
The rangers are still on the job, to see if the animals are in order and to protect them from poachers. When Sowry drove quietly near Orpen Rest Camp, he came across the unusual scene. The rangers don’t want the lions to see the streets as a safe place, just because it’s so quiet there now. But lions are intelligent. “These lions normally hide in the bushes for traffic. Now they enjoy the freedom in the park without us,” says park spokesman Isaac Phaala to the BBC.
Why they just lay down on the road? “Because it was nice and dry,” said Phaala. “It had rained Tuesday evening, so the asphalt was drier than the grass. Big cats and wetness don’t mix very well.” In a Twitter post, the famous Kruger park explains that the gang doesn’t usually stay in areas where tourists are welcome – let alone lay down in the middle of the track near a busy access road.
On the golf course
Earlier this week, the director of a golf club in the park was also able to take incredible photos of lions… on the golf courses. Lionesses stopped to drink from the ponds. Meanwhile, other animals have also found their way to the now quiet golf club.
Still, according to park ranger Sowry, the lockdown in the park has little effect on the behavior of the animals. “Kruger is a very wild place,” he says. “It was wild, and it remains wild.” He is happy that he can share his photos with those who can no longer visit the park because of the corona pandemic. “These are difficult times for everyone. I wanted to put a smile on people’s faces.”