Lions Pictured Napping On South African Roads During Coronavirus Lockdown
With the coronavirus pandemic causing lockdowns across much of the planet, we're seeing more and more animals taking advantage and returning to areas that are now human free.
One such place is Kruger National Park in South Africa, where a pride of lions has been pictured taking advantage of the lack of cars and having a nap on the road.
Kruger visitors that tourists do not normally see. #SALockdown This lion pride are usually resident on Kempiana Contractual Park, an area Kruger tourists do not see. This afternoon they were lying on the tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp.
:camera_with_flash:Section Ranger Richard Sowry pic.twitter.com/jFUBAWvmsA
- Kruger National Park (@SANParksKNP) April 15, 2020
The road, which is usually busy with tourists on safari trips, has been closed to the public since 25 March, but park ranger Richard Sowry spotted the incredible sight on Wednesday.
Shared on Twitter, the images soon gathered the attention of the public, with many stunned at the sight.
The park's account tweeted out: "Kruger visitors that tourists do not normally see. #SALockdown This lion pride are usually resident on Kempiana Contractual Park, an area Kruger tourists do not see. This afternoon they were lying on the tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp."
Mr Sowry explained to the BBC: "Lions are used to people in vehicles. All animals have much more of an instinctive fear of people on foot, so if I had walked up they would never have allowed me to get so close."
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The oldest lioness in the pride is around 14 years old, and while the sight would usually never be spotted by the public, sometimes the creatures will venture on to the road at night-time, to lay on the warm tarmac which has retained the sun's heat throughout the day.
Kruger National Park's media officer, Isaac Phaala, told the news outlet: "Everybody realises the importance of the lockdown and the rangers are there to do their normal duties.
"To maintain the infrastructure takes quite a bit of work so that when the park opens, you don't start from scratch."
Even as the sun rises, without all our human visitors, the urge to sing the 'lion sleeps tonight' is just a whim away, a whim away, a whim away!
:camera_with_flash: :copyright: Jean Rossouw; Skukuza Golf Club , Kruger National Park@SANParks pic.twitter.com/M9XiagVqjX
- Kruger National Park (@SANParksKNP) April 13, 2020
Speaking about the lions, Mr Phaala added: "Normally they would be in the bushes because of the traffic but they are very smart and now they are enjoying the freedom of the park without us."
A total of 48 deaths have been recorded in South Africa so far. The nation went into lockdown on 23 March and had it extended by another two weeks as of today, in the hope of stopping the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/Kruger National Park