A lion shows a tourist why you should keep car windows closed when in Kruger National Park, South Africa:
Clearly he didn’t like to be overtaken, and he gave a clear warning! Ben, the video taker said: “Even though I hadn’t thought that I was disturbing him too much, it reminded me to always be respectful of an animal’s personal space.”
Read more about this sighting, as taken from Ben’s website: Five weeks in Kruger.
My two nights at Tsendze were up, and I was moving on to the fourth stop of my trip to Kruger – Balule. The most direct route would take me back past the scenes of yesterday’s lion sightings and, hoping to catch at least one of them before they bedded down for the day, I decided that I would waste no time by extending my journey unnecessarily.
I left camp at my customary hour of 4.30am, it then remains pretty much completely dark until around quarter past five. Although this 45-minute period theoretically provided me with the opportunity of catching sight of some nocturnal beasts, and despite determinedly and enthusiastically waving my torch around, on this day as on almost every other, I saw very little of interest.
At precisely twenty-one minutes past five, however, I became aware of the presence of a strange-looking chunk of wood in the grass ahead. There are a great many such items in the Kruger National Park which, on the first or second or third glance, strongly resemble one of the reserve’s living inhabitants. I have taken to referring to these dendrological distractions as “African wild logs” in honour of my elusive quarry, and determining their non-animal nature normally requires a considerable amount of reversing and consequent blocking of the road. By the time my mistake has been realised, a small pile-up of cars will often have accumulated, their occupants eagerly awaiting the surely imminent event of my pointing out to them a lion or leopard. The best way, I find, to extract oneself from a potentially embarrassing situation like this is to resolutely insist that you knew the whole time that it was a piece of wood, and that you’re a die-hard botanist and would take a dead tree over a lion any day of the week. Happily, mentioning anything that doesn’t feature as a character in The Lion King reliably sends run-of-the-mill tourists hastily on their way, but the strategy will eventually backfire when somebody cheerfully attempts to start up a conversation on trees, about which I actually know disgracefully little.
I seem to have digressed, but the point is that my African wild log turned out to be no such thing! It was the big male lion from the day before, and he was patrolling along the road at a leisurely pace. Now, lions can be extremely boring when they choose to be. When they move (even if it’s just a slow walk), however, their size and power is obvious; their bulging muscles flex and ripple as they stroll. Before I came to South Africa I had decided to video as many of my sightings as I could, with the idea of putting the clips together in a short film. ‘What better shot than that of a lion walking alongside my car?’ I thought.
This went very well at first, until I moved ahead of him slightly to get a clear view from the front. He did not like being overtaken one bit; he stopped, turned and stared directly into my eyes, growling deeply, before suddenly throwing himself towards my open window. This was terrifying. He stopped inches from my face, hungrily. I, therefore, thought it might be best to go find something friendlier, like a giraffe, or the inside of a secure building.