By Charles Creasey
A wildlife photographer captured the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ moment a pride of 20 lions drank from a safari park river in perfect unison – each with their tongues in the water.
Bernhard Bekker, 40, was taking a trip through the Kruger National Park in South Africa on August 15, when he spotted the wandering pride relaxing at the side of the River Sabie.
Determined to get a good shot of the ‘kings of the jungle’, the dad-of-one came back the next day to wait for the animals.
Bernhard had just seconds to ready himself for the ‘magical’ shot – but never dreamed he would capture the moment all 20 lions took a drink at the exact same moment
Bernhard said: “It’s just such an amazing moment.
“It’s a once in a lifetime event. In 18 years I have not seen that ever – a whole pride drinking like this in full view – it’s unbelievable.
“I had a thought that they might drink but I did not for one moment think that it might turn out this way.”
But the image wasn’t easy to capture and despite seeing the pride out the previous evening, it took a return visit the next day to capture the ‘magic’.
He also managed to film the moment the pride arrived at the river for a drink.
Bernhard said: “We saw the lions the previous evening.
“They were just lying on the sand in the river and they did not look like they wanted to go anywhere soon.
“So we decided to call it a day and return to camp.
“The next morning we rushed to get to the spot where we last saw them and there was no sign of the lions. I was quite disappointed and so were our guests in the vehicle.
“Then we decided to go up the river and start our day looking for leopards.
“About a half an hour later we returned towards the Lower Sabie camp and suddenly out of nowhere we saw the lions appearing on the beach out of the reeds.
“Then the ‘magic just happened’ – one by one these lions came down to the water and filled in the gaps next to each other.
“As they came in I counted them.
“Nineteen appeared then at the last moment before the first lioness raised her head the last baby came – making 20 – and they all started to drink.
“Our guests left the sighting in awe, we were completely speechless until we got back to the camp.
“The response on social media was amazing and I am very proud to have this shot in my collection
“I’m also happy that I can share this with guests and nature lovers all over the world.”