By Hayley Pugh
This is the heart-stopping moment a ranger became stuck when a pride of lions surrounded his car.
Game ranger, Pieter van Wyk, filmed the unnerving encounter as the predators – 22 in total – spotted the large shadow cast by his stationary jeep and one by one made their way over to escape the glaring sun.
Soon the 34-year-old, a ranger at MalaMala Game Reserve in Mpumalanga province, South Africa, found himself closely surrounded by dozens of panting lions.
He was forced to sit it out and wait for the sun to move and the shadow to shrink, before lions finally started to disappear and he could eventually move on.
Pieter said: “It was late morning and the mercury levels were rising as the sun climbed higher into the sky.
“The lions, Africa’s apex predators, were on the hunt not for food, but for shade.
“They decided that the shadow cast by my vehicle would do just fine.
“It isn’t not uncommon during hot days on MalaMala Game Reserve and it was their decision to come into my ‘personal space’.
“Animals have right of way so I had to wait. But it wasn’t too long before the shadow got too small and they moved on.”
The heart-stopping moment was filmed as part of a series called ‘Rangers in Isolation’ which sees the rangers at MalaMala Game Reserve sharing regular videos of game drives and field work online during the lockdown.
The hope is that people who wanted to visit MalaMala but were unable to due to the pandemic can still vicariously experience the African bush and witness some incredible encounters as life goes on in the natural world.