The Hippo, The Lions and the School Bus

A rainy day in Kruger can prove to be just as eventful as any other day in the park. My friend and I had the most bizarre experience on one such rainy day.

We were travelling on the H4-1 road from Lower Sabie back to our camp at Skukuza. At a certain section, we saw a little traffic jam. Naturally we drove closer to see what all the fuss was about.

Baby Lions-1

In the bush, on the opposite side of the river, was a hefty hippopotamus. I could hardly believe my eyes. They always seemed so much smaller in the water. This hippo might have been there for a while and it looked as if it was getting agitated by all the commotion of the cars. My friend reversed the car to ensure that we gave the hippo enough space should it decide run back towards the river.

It turns out that repositioning the car was not only good for our safety. I looked past the hippo and searched deeper into the bush. Something caught my eye. A lioness! We got totally excited and we were pretty sure we had spotted it first. The lioness was moving in our travel direction and it was moving quickly. We decided to abandon the hippo sighting and try and track the movement of the lioness instead.

We squeezed past the queue of cars and tried to catch up with the lioness. We also hoped that nobody saw what we had seen. As we made it through the traffic jam my friend shouted, “Lion Cubs!” At this point our excitement levels went through the roof! I knew we were the only ones to see the sighting so far.

Baby Lions-2

What happened next still astounds me. As we approached the cubs, the mother emerged from the bush. She proceeded to cross the road and expected the cubs to follow. First they just stood there looking at each other. Then the cubs decided to reverse and head back into the bush where they had come from.

It turns out that it wasn’t just us that saw these lions. A bus coming from the opposite direction had spotted the lions too. The bus had just passed us when we heard braking, then reverse warning beeps and then we saw a bus reverse right across our view. This frustrated us so much. To make things worse, the bus was full of noisy school children. We were sure that this racket would chase the mother lion away.

We wanted to see how the mother was reacting knowing that the cubs haven’t crossed the road yet. Did she know that they have been separated from each other? We repositioned the car in front of the bus to get a better view. The lioness started to emerge from the bush again. She was probably searching for the cubs.

Next thing we heard was the sound of something decompressing. It sounded as if a bus was opening its doors. I couldn’t believe it!! The bus had actually opened its doors to get a better view of the lioness! We were shocked and astounded. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. I think the bus eventually closed its doors and we left the scene.

I still wonder what could’ve happened had the lioness entered the bus full of noisy school children that day.

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