Chemical engineer (29), Mark Williams-Wynn, explained to Latestsightings.com the story that unfolded on the H12, near Skukuza, early yesterday morning.
“It had been a strange drive. I came up the H4-1 early in the morning, which is usually the best road for predator sightings at this time of the year, but on this occurrence, the only good sighting was of a herd of elephants crossing the road.
I had already planned to go back down to Lower Sabie along the H1-2 and then H12, so when I was stopped by a car to tell me to take the H12 turnoff because of some lions, I was glad that I would finally see something interesting. When I arrived, there was a lion and lioness lying in the road, and another male lying behind an anthill a bit removed from the road. Because the lions were on the road, the cars were a bit of a mess. I patiently waited my turn to get front-row parking.
People were slowly moving off and more arriving, as is usual with a lion sighting. Eventually I got close to the front. By this time, the big lion had made a few advances on the female, nuzzling her and trying to get her consent, but every time, he was rebuffed with a fierce growl from her. After the umpteenth attempt, all of a sudden, he walked away from her and started staring at the occupants of the closest car. I guess that he either decided to see if he could impress his lady with some bravado, or else he needed something to take his frustrations out of. At this point, I quickly started filming, as it looked as if something was about to happen. Luckily I started the camera rolling, as, quick as a flash, he had attacked the car and turned back to the female, as if to say, “Look how brave I am.”
There was nothing that the occupants of the vehicle had done wrong, and luckily they had their windows up, as it could have otherwise ended in disaster. They just happened to be the closest vehicle to the lion when he lost his mind. The shaken tourists in the vehicle drove off shaken but unharmed. When looking at the reaction of the driver in the video, it did not even seem as if he was that afraid. But on speaking with them afterwards, I think that they were fairly traumatised.
A quarter of an hour went past, and the crazy act of the lion was forgotten, new people arrived and everything seemed to be back to normality. Just another mating lion sighting in KNP. The female moved to the shade thrown by a safari vehicle that had parked to view the lions, and everyone was taking photos, videoing, etc, as one does at a lion sighting. But then, once again, the lion decided to see if the female was interested, and again he was rebuffed. This time, the closest vehicle was an open top safari vehicle. Thankfully the game guide driving this vehicle had lightning reflexes. As soon as the lion locked eyes with him, he started the vehicle, and was already moving when the lion attacked. He did almost drive into another vehicle in his haste to get his guests out of harm’s way, but a miss is as good as a mile. Unfortunately I didn’t get this second attack on video. But suffice to say, the quick reflexes of the game guide prevented disaster. All of the occupants of this second vehicle were ashen-faced after this close encounter.
This was probably the scariest thing that I have experienced in all of my holidays in the bush. The lion was just so unpredictable. I was not sure what he was going to do next. After the second attack, everyone gave the lion a wide berth. Even the female appeared to be abashed of what her consort had done. After a while of them lying in the shade I drove off to see what else I could find.
Mating lions on the road are fairly common. I’ve seen at least one pair every time that I come to the park. A lion attacking and hitting a car – I’ve never seen such a thing, and am glad that I managed to document it. It was good that the tourists had their windows up. It shows how dangerous putting any part of your body out of the window at a sighting is. Although I do not advocate having to drive around the park with windows up, this video definitely makes a strong case for doing so at a lion sighting, especially when they are right next to you. I also want to stress that the tourists did absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, no-one was hurt, simply because they followed all of the rules and did not panic.