It was just a matter of time before lions in South Africa’s Kruger National Park realized that tourists were longer around – and some stunning photographs have emerged, showing a pride sunning themselves in the road.
The photos were snapped by game ranger Richard Sowry while out on patrol earlier this week near the Orpen Rest Camp.
“These are difficult times for everyone and the intention was to bring people joy,” he told the BBC.
Normally the road would have been full of tourist vehicles. But the Kruger National Park has been closed since March 25 due to the coronavirus lockdown in South Africa.
Sowry was able to get within five metres of the lions.
“Lions are used to people in vehicles,” he explained. “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.”
Why aren’t the lions staying in the bush?
In normal circumstances when tourists are around, the lions stay further away from the traffic. The rangers only usually see them on the roads after dark once the park is closed.
But when the weather is cooler, they have been known to sleep on the tarmac in order to absorb the heat.
Right now however it’s not that cold in South Africa – it’s just going into Autumn.
Kruger Park media officer Isaac Phaala offered another possible option as to why the lions chose the road over the grass.
He pointed out that it had rained the previous night and said the tar would have been drier, adding that “big cats and water don’t mix.”
There have been many similar stories coming in from around the world about how wild animals have been emboldened by the decrease in people, motor vehicles and pollution during coronavirus lockdowns.
Such as this one for example: Amazing Images Captured As Animals Come Out To Play After Yosemite Park Closes Its Gates
Image credits: Kruger National Park