Do you know what your local cat prefers to sleep on? It appears that this may be true for big wild cats, such as these lions.
Sooner or later, the animals noticed that the humans vanished, and in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, lions have taken advantage.
Park ranger Richard Sowry of South Africa’s Kruger National Park first spotted the lions resting on the roads.
Big cats are typically observed only by park rangers on the roads at night.
How were the pictures taken?
Mr. Sowry, as a ranger in one of Africa’s largest game reserves, contributes an essential service by monitoring the animals and protecting against p.oach.ers during the lockdown.
On Wednesday afternoon, he noticed the lions on the road ahead and pulled up just five meters (5.5 yards) away to inspect the strange sight.
As he took photos with his mobile phone, the lions did not seem bothered, most of them apparently fast asleep.
“Lions are used to people in cars,” he added. “All animals have a far greater instinctive fear of people on foot, so if I had approached them on foot, they would never have allowed me to come so near.”
The oldest lioness in the pride is about 14, “which is very old for a lioness.”
This was undoubtedly an amazing spectacle, but there’s one little difficulty: the rangers must find a method to guarantee that the lions don’t believe the roads are safe to sleep on for the rest of their lives.
Finally, he says that when cars return to driving on them again, he doesn’t want the lions to become so accustomed to all this open “land.”
How is the lockdown affecting the park?
During the past few months, there have been several instances of lions and wild dogs roaming onto the golf course in the park, which is usually crowded with humans. Sowry thinks that the lockdown hasn’t had a big influence on animals’ behavior yet.
“Kruger is a very wild place,” he says. “It has been wild, and it is still wild.”
He believes the images he shared may bring a little bit of pleasure to those who see them during these strange and challenging times.
“These are terrible times for everyone, and the goal was to bring people happiness,” he adds.
“Everybody recognizes the need for a lockdown, and rangers are there to assist in other ways,” says media officer Isaac Phaala. “To keep the infrastructure going requires a tremendous amount of effort so that you don’t have to start from scratch when the park reopens.”
“Usually, the lions would hide in the bushes since there is a lot of traffic, but they are very clever, and now that we’re gone, they’re having fun in the park without us,” he continues.
But why anyway, you might ask, would lions prefer tarmac to the softness of grass?
For the same reason that it had been raining on Tuesday night, and as Mr. Phaala explained, “The tar was drier than the grass – big cats and water don’t mix.”