By Ellie Duncombe
It’s my way not the highway for this stressed out lioness – as a kind hearted safari guide stopped her being run down by fast moving traffic.
The predator had managed to escape from the Kruger National Park and found herself completely lost by the side of the N4 highway near Marloth Park in South Africa.
Scared by the speeding trucks, she twice nearly strayed onto the road and faced certain death.
But caring guide Mario Paul spent one-and-a-half hours using his car to shield the lioness from the road in the early hours of the morning.
He stayed with her as she desperately tried to find a way through the park’s electrified fence.
Mario, 28, said: “I was on my way to do a game drive in the Kruger National Park with my co-worker David Quihampton.
“David was driving in front of me and spotted the lion first. I arrived shortly afterwards.
“We waited while we tried to get a hold of the authorities. David had to leave to go and get our guests so I stayed with the lioness until someone arrived. It was about an hour and a half.
“She strayed onto the road twice and was almost hit by passing trucks so I positioned my vehicle to stop her from coming onto the road.
“It became more and more complicated because she was 100 metres from a bus stop where construction workers were getting off the bus to complete maintenance on the road. I had to ask them to move into the fenced construction area.
“We are not sure but we think she was the second escaped lioness. Another female was captured the day before and returned to the park but this one was more cunning and evaded capture.”
According to Mario there are numerous ways the lionesses could have escaped the park.
Elephants or poachers may have damaged fences, or the large cats might have slipped out of a hole under the fence dug by a warthog.
Mario said: “The lioness was very stressed. She comes from the wild and is not used to the highway with big speeding trucks.
“She repeatedly tried to get through the electrified fence before settling down in a spot with a little more vegetation, where she perhaps felt safe.
“The game ranger and a state vet eventually arrived and she was successfully darted and transported back to the park where she was released safely again.”