Lockdown Vibes: Lions Just Chillin & Sleepin on The Roads

Doug Williams
 
RICHARD SOWRY/KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
RICHARD SOWRY/KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

Around the world, unexpected side effects of the lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus have been popping up.

 

In addition to effects such as our carbon footprints shrinking as more people stay home and manufacturing slows down, there are some other effects such as wildlife making itself more openly known as the presence of human beings has decreased in certain areas.

The BBC reported on one of these incidents a few days ago, showing pictures of a pride of lions napping on a deserted road in Africa.

The pictures were taken at Kruger National Park in South Africa, when Richard Sowry, a ranger at the park, was out on patrol last Wednesday.

RICHARD SOWRY/KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

RICHARD SOWRY/KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

Like other wildlife parks in the region, Kruger has been closed since March 25 in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.  The lions have apparently noticed the decrease in traffic, and decided to take advantage of it.

Sowry was driving near the Orpen Rest Camp when he spotted the sleeping pride scattered across the width of the road ahead of him.

He was able to pull over about five and half meters away from them, and got out to take a look.  He took pictures of the group using the camera on his cell phone, and the animals either slept through it or were otherwise unconcerned.

He says that he was able to come so close because he was in a vehicle.

The animals at the park are used to people driving by and don’t pay them much attention, but if a person walked up to them it would be taken as a more serious threat.

RICHARD SOWRY/KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

RICHARD SOWRY/KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

Typically the lions might only be seen on the roads at night when people wouldn’t be out driving around the park, and only sleep there in colder weather so they could take advantage of the heat retained by its surface.

Using the roads as a place to relax may not be a big problem now, but the park rangers are a little concerned about what will happen when the park re-opens to the public and traffic increases again.

The lions aren’t the only wild animals who have ventured out. The New York Daily News reported that there have been similar appearances in other parts of the world, including wild pigs, crocodiles, bears, and even the rats in New York City, which are becoming more aggressive in their search for food as the restaurants which are usually a major food source remain closed for business.

In Israel, jackals have been seen roaming in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park before dusk, also in search of food.

Like Kruger’s lions, the jackals would usually only come out at night, and usually only been seen around the edges of the park, but hunger and less human traffic have driven them earlier and sends them ranging farther in their search for their supper.

There are around 100 jackals that live in the park, according to one source.

Some locals have approached the animals, bringing them dishes of dog food, which has caused the beasts to start fighting among themselves to see who gets the food, something which needs to be discouraged before the animals establish the mental link between people and food and becoming hostile if they aren’t fed regularly.

A little less than 60 miles away, in Haifa, wild boars have been spotted roaming around in ‘family packs.’  They roam the area and even flip over garbage cans as they search for food, posing a potential threat to local residents.

Wild mountain goats have become common in Eilat, close to the Red Sea.

In Wales, the BBC also reported that a wild herd of more than 120 Kashmiri goats have taken over the public areas of a seaside town called Llandudno.

Sometimes the herd would come to the town to shelter in particularly bad weather, but the lockdown and resultant decrease in human traffic has encouraged the goats to come in and make themselves at home.

Locals think the goats are curious about why the rhythm of life has changed in the village, and they are also snacking away on residents’ gardens and hedges.

The goats usually avoid people, so the regular inhabitants of the town have been enjoying the opportunity to watch them roam about.

The concern expressed by the rangers at Kruger National Park are valid in all of these cases, no matter how worrisome or entertaining the local human population finds them.

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What will happen when daily life starts to return to something more like its usual patterns?  Will the wildlife just go back to their old habits, or will there be a period of readjustment for all parties involved?

 
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