They look just like big, friendly pussy cats don’t they? Yet all over the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (in an area known as the Kalahari), there are warnings that visitors should not get out of their vehicles. Or even dangle bits of themselves outside of their vehicles. Even if it doesn’t look like there are any big cats around.
At the lookout point above you’ve got good 360 degree vision, with short grass, yet you are told not to get out of your vehicle. The reason being that lions also like this spot and sometimes lie just below the ridge of the plateau. As one was doing on the day this photo was taken. See the photos of that lion in this post.
I like how in this sign, they not only warn you against danger from wild animals, but say “YOU MAY ALIGHT FROM YOUR VEHICLE AT YOUR OWN RISK. The facility you are entering may involve natural and man-made risks, dangers and hazards”! The natural dangers being from wild animals and snakes which sometimes shelter inside or just outside the bathroom. I was a little puzzled at the man-made risks though!
To really put the dangers in context, the sign below is on the noticeboard at the Nossob camp.
So given all the signs it has always been rather puzzling to me that the SANParks (South African National Parks) game rangers and employees don’t take their own advice. You frequently see them riding around on open vehicles, such as the one below.
Last week, a game ranger almost lost his life because of this. An excerpt from the News24.com site.
A game ranger’s life was heroically saved on Tuesday [2011/11/01] when an aggressive lion attacked him on the back of a bakkie [pick-up truck] in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Albert Bojone was literally pulled from the lion’s jaws when Graeme Ellis, a bio-technician and researcher in the park, jumped out of the bakkie’s cabin and dragged him inside . . .
. . . The lion attack came after four lions were shot dead over the weekend for killing cattle.
Henriëtte Engelbrecht, marketing and communication manager of the South African National Parks (SANParks) arid parks in the Northern Cape, said Bojone, Ellis and Mico Ferreira, senior game ranger, were looking for the three remaining lions in the pride on the Botswana side of the park close to the border with South Africa.
Bojone sat on the back of the bakkie and the other two were in the cabin. They followed the two lions and then drove behind the one on the right.
The next moment the other lion rushed at the bakkie and jumped on the back . . . Read full article here . . .
This story could have had a tragic outcome for the game ranger. It already was tragic for the lions which had to be shot. However, one amusing piece of the report says:
Engelbrecht said lions had rushed at vehicles before. A blanket was then usually thrown over them when they got close to the vehicle. They then fought the blanket and usually gave up.
On Tuesday, however, the lion simply pushed through the blanket to get to Bojone.
“He must have been furious.”
Furious? Really – you think?! And what’s that about a blanket?! That works with something as big as a Kalahari lion? So then the game rangers don’t really need the rifles they carry with them . . . they just each need a big blanket. I must remember that on our next visit!