Monday, 6 October 2014

Lion Road Safety in Pilansberg National Park

It's not often you see a lioness with cubs in the wild, but we did yesterday.  One lioness and two cubs to be precise.  The morning started with a leopard sighting - it was up a tree - every photographer's dream shot.  Unfortunately not only was it in the thickest, bushiest tree, there were 15 vehicles parked along the roadside obstructing what miniscule view there was. We waited for our turn and I got a few leafy snaps. A serious pixel surgery job for later.
Nikki the guide was just backing out to move ahead when a pride of lions crossed behind us.  The female actually stopped in the road, sniffed some poo left there by another animal, then rolled in it - just like a dog.  I was told they do this to camouflage their scent which makes it easier to creep up on their prey.  They disappeared into the bush.
Later that afternoon we got sight of them again.  The pride had killed a waterbuck near the dam in the park and were munching on it when a crocodile intervened - I only heard this second-hand as we were miles away at the time.  We raced over to the spot to see the female walking up to the road with her cubs.  (No sign of the croc).  Clearly she wanted to cross but there were so many cars and so drivers did not recognise what she intended to do. We were right at the front so reversed to make a clearing. She actually mock-charged us a couple of times, then picked one cub up in her mouth and walked 100 metres along the side of the track till there was room to pass unmolested by the tourists.

Just like a dog. A lion will roll in poo to disguise the scent of a predator
Traffic jam in Pilansberg.
The park employs rangers who monitor radio traffic and turn up at a cat sighting to make sure no one does anything stupid. 
Apparently some idiots try to get out of their vehicles to get a 'better' view, kids hang out of windows, and some people stay too long, creating spectator rage...
I loved this shot - the mother is actually growling heavily because she wants to cross - but there are too many cars.
Canon EOS 300mm + 1.4X Extender, f2.8, f4 @ 1/400s, ISO 1600.
Not a yawn - the mother is getting very kranky at not being allowed over the road. 
With two cubs in tow, she is very dangerous.
After five or six minutes, the drivers finally stopped following the lioness allowing her room to cross with her cubs.

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