Caption: Two young lions raise their heads in alarm from the safe haven of long winter grass, Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter speed: 1/60; ISO: 400; Time: 5.14pm
These two lion cubs – from different litters as the one is clearly older – were part of a pride of about eight lions lying in tall winter grass close to the road near Satara Camp in the Kruger Park.
It was already late afternoon and also the final day of July school holidays. Lion sightings had been sparse in the area, so for many this was the last opportunity to see the big cats before returning home.
Drivers jostled for position, blocking the road and creating a mini gridlock (below).
In cases like this people show their worst side as they try to force their way into better positions, blocking the view of others.
Driver forces way between cars, moving off road and blocking view. Lions lying in grass are circled.
The lions were fairly oblivious of all this, occasionally lifting their heads or changing positions, but it wasn’t much of a sighting, certainly from our position. In the meantime it was getting close to 5.30pm, which is camp closing time in winter.
But the road was jammed. Those on the inside couldn’t get out while those on the outside seemed determined not to move. Tempers flared and people started hooting and shouting – definitely not what you expect or want in a game reserve.
Eventually some frustrated person played a tape of lions roaring through his car speakers, probably hoping to get the animals to move so everyone could disperse.
It was this sound, rather than the hooting, that caused the young lions to raise their heads and look around in consternation. Interestingly, the one mature male lying closest to the road didn’t even lift his head, simply ignoring the tinny sounds from the car speakers.
Eventually the fear of being locked out of camp and paying hefty fines saw the traffic jam break up, leaving the lion pride in peace, free from the stares and cameras of badly behaved humans.