WATCH: Lion turns tyre into a chew toy

2017-08-14 13:45
A group of friends managed to capture this video when a lion in the Natal Lion Park suddenly got up, chased the car and grabbed onto their car’s spare tyre. Visit The Witness Facebook page to view the video.PHOTO: supplied.

A group of friends managed to capture this video when a lion in the Natal Lion Park suddenly got up, chased the car and grabbed onto their car’s spare tyre. Visit The Witness Facebook page to view the video.PHOTO: supplied.

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Pietermaritzburg - A group of friends were left traumatised after a lion clung onto the spare tyre at the back of their bakkie at the Natal Lion Park.

The group were driving through the gated lion enclosure in the park last Sunday when the incident occurred.

The Witness has over the last decade reported on numerous incidents of lions jumping on vehicles at the park, which is owned by prominent animal circus owner Brian Boswell.

The Witness reporter Chelsea Pieterse, who was part of the group, said a lion they had passed suddenly got up and chased the car.

“Then it jumped and grabbed the tyre and started chewing it like a play toy. A guy in front was watching and wouldn’t move. We were trying to get away.”

They eventually continued driving, and the lion held on for a few more seconds before letting go.

They then drove out of the enclosure. The entire ordeal lasted about 30 seconds, she said.

“At the end, everyone thought ‘we’re never coming back’.”

Another passenger, Mercedes Elliot, said she would never have expected something like that to happen.

“I had so many scenarios playing in my head, but the one I feared the most was that it would break the back window and enter the vehicle.”

Boswell told The Witness last week that this was the first incident he had heard of at the park this year.

He said that generally lions approached vehicles because of irresponsible behaviour of patrons.

“People put blood on tyres and lions chew on them and they think it’s funny at the time then change their minds afterwards [when something bad happens].”

He said patrons in that situation should simply drive off. “Mostly they [lions] don’t do anything. But we tell people what not to do. We don’t allow people with soft tops on bakkies, or plastic or canvas tops — we make them take it off.

“But people [misbehave] because they think it’s funny.”

Wildlife parks, meanwhile, have warned against patrons behaving irresponsibly during safaris.

SANParks spokesperson Janine Raftopoulos said they did get cases of people misbehaving across their 19 parks, which include Kruger National Park.

“We tell people not to get out [of the vehicle] and not to open windows, but they do it despite rules and regulations, and with the vastness of our parks, the rangers can’t be everywhere to help if something happens.”

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo said they did not hear of many cases of animals attacking patrons.

He added that he had never heard cases of lions attacking safari vehicles.

“A lion is not much danger to you when you are in a car. Elephants and rhinos are more dangerous. When you see them, don’t get closer; let them rule the road.

“Don’t try to push them aside or rev the car.”

He said animals could get agitated by loud noises. “Give it time, and eventually it will move.”

Raftopoulos advised safari patrons not to hoot or try to feed animals and to remain on designated routes to avoid problems.

“Don’t try to get in too close to animals just to get a photo. It’s about common sense.”

She said public misbehaviour becomes a problem during peak seasons. “We get a lot of cars at the parks and then people get agitated with one another and problems happen.”

In 2011, The Witness reported that a family told the paper that a lion had jumped on their car and began to bite the car and its tyres.

In 2010, a lion jumped on a Durban family’s bakkie. The lion’s jaw was torn open in the incident after the driver had accelerated to try and shake the lion off the bakkie.

In 2009, a lion clawed the back of a Dutch tourist couple’s car at the park. They told the paper at the time that they were surrounded by about 10 lions during the incident.

Also that year, a lion bit the bumper of a car containing an eight-year-old.

— Additional reporting by Chelsea Pieterse.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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