We were on holiday in the KNP during the July school holidays close to 20 years ago.
When we were driving from Olifants to Satara, we came to a large dry sandy pan on the left hand side of the road where another two cars were stopped. The road was much higher than the surrounding veld at this point.
We stopped to have a look around. There didn’t seem to be any animals around the pan.
On the right hand side of the road there was a windmill with a water trough nearby. Some zebra were drinking and grazing the area around the water trough.
Two men were working on the windmill equipment at ground level. They were wearing blue overalls.
After a while my wife, Marguerite, noticed something in the distance on the other side of the pan on the left. She said that she thought it might be a lion. I grabbed my binoculars and confirmed that a male lion was walking straight towards us.
The lion was still far off and by now a few more cars had arrived. Needless to say they all stayed when they noticed the approaching lion.
I checked to see what the men at the windmill were doing. They had noticed that the traffic was building up and had now stopped working.
I was taking pictures of the lion as he approached as I thought he would change direction to avoid the traffic.
By the time the lion was about 50 meters away there were a lot of vehicles stopped. The men by now realised that something big was heading their way.
I wondered what the men would do. The road was a lot higher than the veld and a vehicle would not have been able to get to them quickly or easily. I thought that they might climb the windmill.
They had a better plan. They sat down in the veld and held up a big stiff piece of canvas in front of them facing towards the road. They didn’t know a lion was coming their way.
All I could see of them was the tops of their heads and four BIG eyes.
The lion was close to the road now and walked straight up the embankment onto the road right in front of us. He seemed to be old, a bit thin and not in prime condition.
As soon as the lion had walked through the traffic he immediately froze in his tracks. He had spotted the zebra and the men behind their camouflage.
All I could see of the men now was four HUGE eyes. I don’t know why they didn’t climb up the windmill. They just remained where they were hoping they didn’t become the lions lunch.
The lion then looked at the men and then back at the zebra. He looked at the men again and then at the zebra again.
We had never seen a lion kill and didn’t want to see one now! Definitely not in these circumstances! (Still haven’t nearly 20 years later)
The lion trotted towards the zebra, chasing them away from the water trough.
He had a drink and looked at the men again. I can’t describe how big their eyes were by now. They seemed rooted to the spot and resigned to their fate.
What was the lion going to do?!?!
To the relief of everyone the lion walked around the water trough and carried on in the westerly direction he had always been going.
After the lion had disappeared into the bush the traffic cleared and the men carried on working.
We drove on to Satara and popped into reception to tell them about the incident in case the men needed to be extracted.
It was an unusual sighting and we won’t forget it. I’m sure the men in the blue overalls won’t forget it either!
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