Lions Reclaim Kruger National Park Amidst Pandemic

Yesterday, I shared a video from Yosemite National Park that showed what it was like in that iconic location without humans around in large numbers. As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to hold us in its grip, more and more parks and backcountry destinations are closed off to visitors. Even in a relatively short time, those places have begun to be reclaimed by the local wildlife and vegetation, which are quickly adapting to the lack of humans in their natural habitats. Case in point, the photo above, which was taken in Kruger National Park in South Africa. It shows a pride of lions slumbering on a road, soaking up the warm sun. This would have been unthinkable a month ago, but now it is yet another sign of how our world would quickly adapt without us overrunning it.

The photo was taken by park ranger Richard Sowry, who has been deemed “essential personnel” for Kruger. Even though no one is allowed to visit the park at the moment, and South Africa is under a strict lockdown, he still travels through the region on a daily basis. His job is to keep an eye on the wildlife and watch for poachers, who might take advantage of the empty park to hunt rhinos, elephants, or other valuable creatures. On Wednesday, he came across this lion pride sleeping on the road without a care in the world. Sowry says that in the past, he and the other rangers would only spot the large felines on the roads after dark, as the animals prefer to stay well away from traffic and are often more nocturnal in nature.

kruger lions pandemic 2
Photo Credit: Richard Sowry


While Sowry worries that the lions may get accustomed to the quiet of the park without humans, he says not much else has changed there under the lockdown. Even though it sees thousands of visitors each year, it remains a wild and untamed place where the creatures still roam freely and rule the landscape. Even during the best of times, we’re just visitors in that environment, which is home to those wild animals. Still, it is amazing to see how quickly they have become comfortable with us not being in their environment, providing a brief glimpse at how resilient our world would be if we were no longer in it.

Kraig Becker