In the absence of any human movement owing to the global coronavirus lockdown, the lions in South Africa's Kruger National Park are having the entire place to themselves to laze around. In a viral picture, shared on social media by the Park authorities, a pride of lions can be seen enjoying their siesta on the roads.
Picture shared by Park's ranger
The photograph, clicked by park ranger Richard Sowry, show the lions sprawled out on a stretch of road, enjoying the peaceful and serene surrounding in the absence of any visitors.
Sowry, who undertakes the essential services at the park along with conducting a check on the wildlife and guarding them against poachers, saw the pride of lions resting on the road near the Orpen Rest Camp on Wednesday afternoon. Stopping his vehicle just five metres (5.5 yards) short from the pride, Sowry captured the rare sight on his camera.
"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," BBC quoted the ranger.
Sharing the pictures on their Twitter account, the authorities at the Kruger National Park wrote: "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."
Closure has seen lions venturing out to park's golf course
The park that usually sees a footfall of thousands of tourists has been shut down since March 25. Speaking to CNN, Park's spokesman Isaac Phaahla said: "Lying on the road during the daytime is unusual because under normal circumstances there would be traffic and that pushes them into the bush. The lockdown hasn't led to many changes in animal behaviour. They just occupy places that they would normally shun when there are tourists. People should remember that KNP is still a large wild area and in the absence of humans, wildlife is more active."
A few days ago, the park had posted some videos and pictures of lions and wild animals playing around in the Skukuza Golf Club located inside the Kruger National Park. It had captioned the post, "Even as the sun rises, without all our human visitors, the urge to sing the 'lion sleeps tonight' is just a whim away, a whim away, a whim away!" Jean Rossouw clicked the pictures.
Earlier, in a statement issued regarding the closure of the park for tourists, SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said: "Although visitors are banned, food delivery, fuel provision, security and emergency services, as well as wildlife crime operations, are continuing. We would like to thank the public for their on-going support in line with the government's strategy to mitigate the impact of COVID 19, we all have an obligation to flatten the curve."
(With agency inputs)