Lions In the Park

Kruger National Park, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its high density of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos.

Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s largest game reserves and is located between the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the northeastern part of South Africa. The park covers an area of 19,485 sq km and is recommended for its exclusive private safaris. The park is home to elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, leopards and buffalos – the five big game animals, along with 147 species of other mammals and birds.

Our trip to Kruger National Park is also one of my most memorable trips. This is mainly because, unlike the previous two, I and my wife were accompanied by a few work colleagues who also wanted to take the trip to the National Park. So, we got together and took four separate cars. I was driving a Nissan with my wife and a few of our colleagues. As the Accounts Manager, I was not only responsible for all off-site business operations but also for the health and safety of all my colleagues. However, this didn’t prevent us from visiting Kruger National Park, one of the places that I really wanted to visit.

The Rhino Family

Its a sight to a watch 3-ton body move.

Our African Safari started off with a long drive, and we had to make short pit stops at quite a few places. Before entering the park, visitors are required to sign a declaration that states visitors will not open the doors or roll the windows down while in the park for safety reasons. This was reasonable since we were all going to be in close proximity to wild animals in the Park.

While enjoying the unspoilt wilderness, we came across all the big cats, a crash of rhinoceros, a giraffe and its newly born cub and quite a few other animals. At one point, our cars apparently went a bit off-track and we ended up being uncomfortably close to a pride of lions (12 or 15). The lions seemed to have surrounded one of our colleague’s car. One of the large cats even tried to get up on the bonnet, while another was apparently trying to snack on one of the cars’ tires. While it was all fun and games at first, it didn’t take too long for things to take a serious turn.

That fateful car and seconds

We regretted not carrying extra batteries for our cameras. Otherwise, we could have captured what was to follow. To wade away the curious lions, we decided to honk our car horns. During that time, one of my colleagues tried to call the number which was given on the leaflet handed to us by the Park’s ranger. But, there was no answer. Even if we did contact the ranger, it would take a while for them to reach our location.

Trying our best to not end up as dinner for the lions, a colleague decided to back their car up slowly to get away from the hungry lions. He had to do it slowly, since he had driven over marshy land and was quite a distance away from the main road.

Powerful claws tore the car

Sensing that their dinner was trying to get away, one of the large lions used its sharp claws and tore away the plastic bumper clean off the car while he was backing up. I admit that looking at how easily the lion peeled away the bumper was terrifying. It was at that time that we realized that the doors of our vehicles might also not be as secure as we thought they were.

In a panic, we started to shout, “LOCK THE DOORS, LOCK THE DOORS!” so that even if the lions did scratch at them, the doors would not open. In South Africa, the doors of vehicles lock automatically once the car starts to move forward. This is done to keep passengers safe while travelling alone on the highway. However, considering the situation we were in, we thought it was a good idea to double-check just in case.

The Majestic Elephant

Luckily, we managed to move away from the pride and made it out of there in one piece. During our drive back, we came across a rhinoceros and its family. I think the headlights of our cars attracted one of the large rhinos, who then proceeded to walk closer to our car. On the way back. the Majestic Elephant did not disappoint us.

These escapes and experiences make the journey to a place like Kruger National park so memorable. We were lucky to have experienced the true essence of being on a wildlife safari.