South African Lions Take Advantage of Lockdown and Nap Out On the Empty Road
The COVID-19 pandemic has torn through country after country, leaving nearly everyone around the globe sheltering in place. That means restaurants are closed for dine-in services, definitely no trolling the malls, and large gatherings of any kind are forbidden.
That can all only mean one thing: Roads are pretty dang empty.
If you’ve driven around—whether you had an essential place to be or just needed to get out of the house for a drive—you’ve probably noticed that traffic is a thing of the past. The roads are eerily quiet, considering all of the bans happening worldwide.
Well, humans aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed empty roads. Apparently there are a group of lions in South Africa that have also noticed—and have taken advantage.
They decided to sprawl out on the empty roads and take a little cat nap, if you will.
It was South Africa’s Kruger National Park’s park ranger Richard Sowry who first spotted the tigers napping on the roads. While the park is closed down temporarily, Sowry still patrols as an essential worker to check in on the wildlife.
When he spotted the lions all snoozing on the road, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He also couldn’t believe how close he was able to get to them since they were all catching their zzzs.
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. 📸Section Ranger Richard Sowry pic.twitter.com/jFUBAWvmsA
— Kruger National Park (@SANParksKNP) April 15, 2020
“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.”
While this was certainly a sight to see, there is one little problem: Sowry needs to somehow ensure the tigers don’t assume that the roads are going to be safe to sleep on for the rest of their lives. Eventually, cars will be back to driving on them, and he doesn’t want the tigers to get so used to all this open “land.”
“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,” says media officer Isaac Phaala.
In the meantime, he hopes the photos of the tigers napping is able to bring people even the slightest smidgen of joy in this weird and challenging time.
“These are difficult times for everyone and the intention was to bring people joy,” he said.
How cute are these lions all taking a nap in the road? Would you do the same if you could sprawl out like this?