Hair Raising Lion Encounter

The Kruger National Park finally reopened on the 8th June after two months of it being closed due to the lock down, locals from Mpumalanga and Limpopo were lucky enough to be allowed to visit the park again.

There has been some great sightings since the park reopened but this encounter was particularly interesting because it involved one of the dominant Shishangeni lions asserting dominance among his younger sons.

We came across this sighting because it was posted on the SANParks Facebook group by Elsabe Verwey, her family was at the park enjoying being back when they encountered this magnificent interaction, they had only been in the park for 45 minutes before they came across this sighting.

Image copyrighted to Elsabe Verwey

We asked Elsabe to recount the sighting and this what she told us:

“We entered the park at Crocodile Bridge, about 30 minutes before the sighting, a vehicle stopped us at the S25 turnoff and told us about a cheetah sighting they were part of on that road.

We then decided to go and have a look, by the time we got to the Hippo pools turn off we hadn’t seen the cheetah they spoke of. We gave up on that idea and took a chance on the road to the pools. After a few kilometers Megan spotted 2 rhinos in the dense bush,we stopped to have a better look when we realized there were 2 lions walking in front of the rhino.

However, they disappeared very quickly so we switched off the car and heard soft roars further down the road, we joined 3 other cars to see the alpha on the right hand side along with 3 young males and the female right beside us.

Car switched off, we started taking photos when the alpha got up and approached the youngsters, I then told Megan to switch to video as we could see he was highly agitated, flicking his tail quite a bit as he walked.

Image copyrighted to Elsabe Verwey

He started off by merely snarling at them, trying to get his point across; thereafter, a full on fight broke out. Every last hair on our bodies stood on end and staying calm and quiet didn’t come easy.

When we actually started seeing vapor and spit flying we realized, we were in the middle of something big, it was when he circled back and pounced from behind that it dawned on us they were getting a bit too close for comfort and decided it best to roll up the windows for what it was worth.

The “stop-you-in-your-tracks” look the alphas yellow eyes shot us was spine chillingly humbling. It is in this moment you realize how small humans truly are in the face of nature.

Truly an experience neither of us are soon to forget, even though we could tick off the big 5 twice, this definitely stole the golden moment of the day. “

We would like to thank Elsabe and Megan Verwey for sharing this experience with us.

Watch the video below:

You can learn more about the Shishangeni lions here.

All images and videos are copyrighted to Elsabe and Megan Verwey.

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