The family may have been excited when they entered the park, but what happened next could very well have been the highlight of their trip. A pair of lions were right outside their car – close enough, in fact, for an excellent photo opportunity. After the cameras had come out, however, the beasts started to move.
On January 20, 2018, a person called Gert De Koker filmed a frightening video in Kruger National Park (KNP). That footage subsequently went viral, with even the park itself uploading it to its YouTube account. And, in sum, the clip illustrates why visitors should follow park rules perfectly.
KNP itself is located in northeast South Africa and is one of the country’s largest safari locales. Not only do its grounds cross both the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, but its surroundings are also wildlife reserves. And within the park, wild animals are free to wander between these fenceless zones.
The park is also home to hundreds of different animal species – and as such, visitors may expect to have close encounters with creatures of all varieties. With that in mind, KNP has a series of rules set in place for the safety of their guests, and these guidelines are especially important in safari areas.
For example, vehicles need to stick to speed limits and keep to the designated roads. KNP also states that visitors should obey noise restrictions to avoid disturbing the animals; this includes restricting cell phone use. Naturally, the park forbids guests from feeding the wildlife, too.
But one of the most important rules is that visitors stay inside their vehicles. This is something that KNP has explained on its official website. “Remember that no part of the body may protrude from a window or sunroof or any other part of the vehicle,” the site states.
This particular guideline was one that the family in the De Koker video didn’t follow, however. The footage itself, though, reveals an exciting moment for passing tourists – a pair of lions lounging on the busy road.
The video shows one vehicle wisely choosing to slowly pass by the lions; the other visitors don’t seem to be so eager to move, though. Instead, they stop and admire the majestic spectacle. In fact, some of the onlookers decide that the sight even warrants breaking safari rules.
The children in one car apparently let their enthusiasm get the better of them, for example. Seemingly desperate to make the most of a perfect photo opportunity, they get out their devices to capture the moment and lean out one of the vehicle’s windows to do so.
Even the driver of the car seems to be swept up in the moment; they move the vehicle around so that the occupants can all get a different view of the seemingly languid lions. However, one of the cats isn’t as relaxed as he may seem.
“This was clearly a mating pair of lions,” KNP explained in the video’s description. “Lion mating behavior is legendary, with a couple frequently copulating up to 40 times a day!” As a result, the male lion may have been feeling very protective of his mate.
In fact, sometimes male lions fight over mates. Furthermore, unlike some animals, the big cats aren’t limited to a regular mating season. And it soon became more obvious just how annoyed the male in the video was at having his romantic time interrupted.
When the car is seen driving closer to the big cats in the clip, for example, the lion’s tail flicks a few times, which signifies his displeasure. Seconds later, on top of that, he springs to his feet and lets everyone hear his irritation with a low snarl. And, needless to say, this noise makes the kids jump.
As a result, the inquisitive children quickly shoot back inside their vehicle. Then, after that, the lions get to their feet and casually walk off into the trees. It’s definitely an encounter the family won’t ever forget, and it serves as a valuable teaching aid, too.
KNP explained as much on YouTube, reiterating, “Please obey the Kruger Park rules and don’t hang out of windows, especially this close to lions. And please don’t allow your children to do it either; this is extremely dangerous.” But, as it happens, that clip wasn’t the only one from KNP to go viral.
On October 10, 2017, for instance, another clip in Kruger National Park was uploaded to YouTube and subsequently picked up hundreds of thousands of views. And in the video’s description, Sean Obeirne recounted how he had witnessed another close encounter with a lion at the park. This time, however, it had been the lion that had approached the tourists – an inquisitive young male, to be exact.
At first, though, Obeirne had found the encounter entertaining. He said, “We were laughing and joking that the lion would scratch the paint or in some way damage the vehicle. I had been filming the entire interaction but wasn’t prepared for what I captured thereafter.”
Obeirne continued, “In the midst of our childish jokes, there was an almighty bang.” To Obeirne’s undoubted surprise, the lion had bitten the tourist’s tire – and the resulting loud noise had scared the animal off. And even though Obeirne had initially found the event funny, he had soon realized just how terrifying it was for the affected visitors.
“We then went over to investigate and offer a helping hand,” Obeirne recalled. “To my shock and horror, one of the people in the now three-wheeled car was a prefect at my school.” Then, once the group had changed the burst tire, they got out of there as fast as they could.
But although the latter experience was happenstance, the former was definitely avoidable. And even though it seems that no one was harmed in the encounter with the mating lions, a good picture on Instagram definitely isn’t worth putting the life of yourself or an animal at risk.