Pride of lions sleep in the road in South Africa

Pride of lions sleep in the road as coronavirus lockdown keeps tourists away from South Africa’s Kruger National Park and the animals take full advantage

  • Pack was spotted by park ranger Richard Sowry near the Orpen Rest Camp on the western border of the park
  • The lions took advantage of the deserted road to spread out across the tarmac on Wednesday afternoon
  • Normally, the lions would only sleep on roads during colder winter nights, when tarmac traps sun’s heat
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

A pride of lions slept on an empty road in South Africa’s Kruger National Park after tourists stayed away because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The lions took advantage of the deserted road to spread out across the tarmac on Wednesday afternoon, some lying in the sunshine and others in the shade. 

The pack was spotted by park ranger Richard Sowry near the Orpen Rest Camp on the western border of the park, which has been empty since South Africa went into lockdown on March 26. 

 A pride of lions slept on an empty road in South Africa’s Kruger National Park after tourists stayed away because of the coronavirus pandemic

The lions took advantage of the deserted road to spread out across the tarmac on Wednesday afternoon, some lying in the sunshine and others in the shade

The pack was spotted by park ranger Richard Sowry near the Orpen Rest Camp on the western border of the park, which has been empty since South Africa went into lockdown on March 26

While he took pictures of the sleeping lions on his phone after arriving in his car, the lions – used to seeing people in vehicles – did not seem bothered. 

Mr Sowry told 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.’

The oldest lioness in the pride is around 14, which is very old for a lioness, Mr Sowry added. 

Normally, the lions would only sleep on the park’s roads during colder winter nights, when the tarmac traps heat from the sun. 

While he took pictures of the sleeping lions on his phone after arriving in his car, the lions – used to seeing people in vehicles – did not seem bothered 

Mr Sowry told 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’

However, the rangers do not want the lions to think the roads are safe just because they are hardly being used because of the coronavirus lockdown. 

But Mr Sowry said the lions appear to have so far been unaffected by the surrounding panic.

‘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,’ he said. 

The lions preferred the hard tarmac to the soft grass because it had been raining the night before and so the grass was still wet. Media officer Isaac Phaala joked, ‘big cats and water don’t mix.’ 

South Africa extended its lockdown by two weeks on Wednesday. The country has recorded 2,506 cases of the virus, with 34 recorded deaths.  

Normally, the lions would only sleep on the park’s roads during colder winter nights, when the tarmac traps heat from the sun

The rangers do not want the lions to think the roads are safe just because they are hardly being used because of the coronavirus lockdown

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