Coronavirus Lions nap on road during South African lockdown
Sooner or later animals were going to notice that the humans had disappeared and in South Africa’s Kruger National Park lions have been taking advantage.
Park ranger Richard Sowry was out on patrol on Wednesday when he snapped a pride sleeping on a road which would normally be busy with tourists.
But Kruger, like other wildlife parks, has been shut since 25 March as part of the coronavirus lockdown.
Big cats would usually only be seen by rangers on the roads by night.
How were the pictures taken?
As a ranger in one of Africa’s largest game reserves, Mr Sowry performs an essential service and continues to work during the lockdown, checking on the wildlife and guarding against poachers.
While driving near Orpen Rest Camp on Wednesday afternoon, he spotted the lions on the road ahead and pulled up just five metres (5.5 yards) away to look at the unusual phenomenon.
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 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.”
The oldest lioness in the pride is about 14, “which is very old for a lioness”, so they are used to seeing vehicles.
Normally Mr Sowry would only see lions sleeping on the park’s roads on colder nights in the winter, when the tar retains quite a lot of heat.