We have seen the stories of animals coming into cities all over the world, having noticed that the streets were empty and humans were nowhere to be seen. Now even the animals in the Kruger National Park, in South Africa, have started taking advantage. A couple of days ago, Richard Sowry, who is a park ranger at the national park, was patrolling and saw a pride of lions sleeping on the road. He took his phone out and took some photos of them.
To him, this was an unusual sight because lions would rarely be seen on the road when tourists were in the park. He said that lions rarely walk on the street and that you can see one or two there in the night. Like every other park in South Africa, Kruger National Park has been shut since the end of March due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Rangers in the park continue working during the lockdown, patrolling the park, looking out for hurt animals, and protecting them from potential poachers. Richard and other park rangers work in shifts, so the park is never left unsupervised.
As Richard was driving around, he was close to Orpen Rest Camp, and there he noticed the unusual sight. He drove up to 5 meters to the pride of lions who were lying and sleeping on the road and took a few photos. The majority of them didn’t even budge and continued sleeping. Richard explained that most of the lions are used to people driving in cars and taking photos of them. So that is why they didn’t even move when he came so close to them. He added that they would have reacted differently if he was on foot and wouldn’t allow him to get that close.
The younger lions might get spooked, but there are lions in that pride who are from 10 to 14 years old, and they are quite used to seeing cars drive by on the roads. Richard has also said that he would typically see lions sleeping on the street at night in the winter. Because the tar is still pretty warm from the day, and they sleep there because they get a bit cold.
Although it is a rare and exciting sight to see, rangers don’t want lions to get used to sleeping on the roads and think that it is a safe place for them. Because once the park gets opened again, those roads will be filled with cars and vehicles, and they don’t want any accidents to happen. Richard has also seen lions and other animals venture close and in the golf courses. These are the things that are happening since the lockdown, and everything else has been regular just like before.
With his photos, Richard just wanted people to see these exciting situations and that he knows that people want to come to the park to witness these animals. With the photos, they can see how wild the park can be. He knows that people are missing the park, and are sad that they can’t visit at this time of lockdown, but these few photos can cheer them up.
To this day, South Africa is the most affected country in Africa, with more than 2500 people positive of the virus and 34 deaths. Just a couple a days ago, it was announced that the lockdown will be extended to another two weeks. The media officer of the Kruger National Park, Isaac Phaala, has said that rangers are at work every day to keep the park at its best. He also added that it is better to maintain it now then to start when the lockdown is over, and tourists start pouring in.
They also explained why the lions would sleep on the street, saying that the day before it was raining and that the tarmac had been dry. The bushes and soil could have been still wet, and because lions don’t quite enjoy the water, they were lying on the road.