While the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down Kruger National Park to the public, its resident lions are taking advantage of the absence of visitors to check out places they usually don't frequent.

Kruger closed to visitors on 25 March as part of South Africa's efforts to curb the spread of the virus. With traffic gone from the area, section ranger Richard Sowry came across a pride of lions lying on the tar road just outside Orpen Rest Camp and captured some great images of the big cats snoozing in the sun. They usually reside on Kempiana Contractual Park, an area visitors to Kruger don't see.

Kruger lions 3.jpg
This road would normally be full of vehicles © Richard Sowry/Kruger National Park

"The use of barren places by animals such as lions is not unusual," park spokesman Isaac Phaahla tells Lonely Planet. "In this instance, the tarred road is being used because there has not been traffic passing through this particular stretch of road since the lockdown. It also means there is prey in the area because they are drawn to places where there is food and water nearby."

Kruger lions 2.jpg
Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s largest game reserves © Richard Sowry/Kruger National Park

Kruger is one of Africa’s largest game reserves, and mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of its landscape. All of the continent's iconic safari species – elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, hippo and zebra – share the bushveld with a supporting cast of 137 other mammals and over 500 varieties of bird.

Kruger lions 1.jpg
The pride of lions took a nap on the deserted road © Richard Sowry/Kruger National Park

While Kruger is closed, those who are missing seeing wild animals can join a series of wildlife safari drives via live streaming. Lasting approximately three hours, the drives will be streamed in real-time from &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private Game Reserve, both of which are are on the fringes of Kruger.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

You might also like:

Animals come out to play in Yosemite while humans stay away

This live-cam wild cat footage takes adorable animal content to the next level

Explore related stories

African elephants - Loxodonta africana - walking past a waterhole in acacia woodlands at dawn,  Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, Africa
Animal,  Bird,  Elephant,  Field,  Grassland,  Mammal,  Nature,  Outdoors,  Savanna,  Tree,  Vegetation,  Wildlife

National Parks

All you need to know about African elephants – and where to spot them in the wild

Apr 25, 2024 • 7 min read