I don’t know how far outside of South Africa this news has spread, but perhaps you have heard of the lion attack that happened here a few weeks ago. An American woman visited The Lion Park outside Johannesburg and died from the injuries she sustained when a lion attacked.
So that no one will jump to the wrong conclusions and think that it’s dangerous to go on safari, I would like to explain the situation.
The Lion Park is sometimes called a game reserve, wildlife park, nature reserve and wildlife park. It’s really not much more than a glorified zoo. You can drive around in a small reserve and see lions, among other animals. “Super Close-Up Animal Views Guaranteed” it says on the website…
The woman had her window fully open, just like the private guide she was there with. No one can miss the signs that are everywhere, clearly telling everyone in the park to always keep windows closed. So no matter how tragic it is, it’s their own fault.
Lions are wild and dangerous animals! But this is precisely where misconceptions can arise… How can you go on safari in an open safari vehicle if it’s so dangerous to have a window down?!?
These lions began their lives in the area of the lion park where you can pet the lion cubs. And no wonder that draws people, admit it – how many of you are not thrilled by the idea? I admit, we’ve been there and cuddled with these wonderfully cute little lion cubs. It was many, many years ago – before we knew better.
Because the question is what happens to these lion cubs when they have done their 3 months as cute cuddleable cubs. According to the website, they are sent to a farm near Hartebeespoort Dam where they are housed in large enclosures.
The Lion Park also says that they do their utmost to ensure that their lions are not used in so-called “canned hunting”. They donate or sell the lions to reputable zoos or wildlife parks. If the lions are not sold, they stay at the farm until they die of natural causes.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how many lions are needed in zoos and wildlife parks and how many can they keep at the farm until they die of natural causes..? With the amount of lion cubs the Lion Park must have in a year, I’m not sure the equation adds up.
The Kruger Park
But this wasn’t really what I meant to write about… The wrong conclusions that can be drawn is that it’s dangerous to go on safari in the bush in a game reserve on an open safari vehicle. Every day, tourists in southern Africa experience the magic of sitting in an open vehicle next to a flock of wild lions. And yet nothing ever happens.
Wild lions in areas like the Kruger Park are completely wild. They haven’t been handled by people, fed, petted or photographed with people. They don’t associate humans with food. They are completely wild and have a natural fear of humans.
They also have really big areas to move around in and can easily move on if they get irritated, something that the lions in the lion park can’t. They have no choice, they can’t escape …
In a car, whether it is a normal car or a large open safari vehicle, you are also safe since the lions see the whole silhouette as a single unit. You are significantly bigger than the lions. So before heading out on safari your guide will explain to you that you may not stand up and break this silhouette. You may of course never leave your car if you drive on your own… And you should keep the noise level down and never disturb the animals, of course.
As long as you stick to the rules, you need not worry about being attacked by lions in the African bush.