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As South Africa Stays Indoors Due to Lockdown, Lions Relax and Take Naps in the Roads

The big cats are normally only seen on the road by park rangers at night.

Elias Marat



South Africa Lions

(TMU) — All over the world we’ve seen animals taking back their own habitats, from crocodiles on the beaches of southern Mexico to bobcats in Yosemite National Park, while humans shack up indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And with people laying low and the animal kingdom enjoying a bit of a revival, it was only a matter of time before lions in South Africa had their day in the sun—literally, in this case.

In a new set of photos from South Africa’s Kruger National Park, a pride of lions can be seen peacefully lounging outside in the sun and shade on a road with seemingly no care in the world.

The uncanny photos were taken by park ranger Richard Sowry, who was out on routine patrol Wednesday before stumbling on the strange sight.

The big cats are normally only seen on the road by rangers at night, according to BBC.

In a tweet, Kruger said:

“This lion pride are usually resident on Kempiana Contractual Park, an area Kruger tourists do not see.

This afternoon they were lying on the tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp.”

Typically, the park would be abuzz with tourists taking self-guided tours, enjoying picnics, and enjoying attractions ranging from museums to wildlife safaris, and even golf.

Park spokesman Isaac Phaahla told CNN:

“Lying on the road during the daytime is unusual because under normal circumstances there would be traffic and that pushes them into the bush.”

Yet the animals’ behavior isn’t necessarily abnormal despite the striking nature of the photos. Phaahla added:

“They just occupy places that they would normally shun when there are tourists.

People should remember that KNP is still a largely wild area and in the absence of humans, wildlife is more active.”

Earlier this week, similar shots of hyenas and lions hanging out at the Skukuza golf club located within the park were taken by the captain of the golf club, Jean Rossouw. The photos show lionesses drinking from the golf course’s ponds and chasing hyenas across the green.

Park officials also captured video of wild dogs playing in the area a week before.

The park has been closed to the public since March 25 as part of South Africa’s nationwide lockdown meant to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In the meantime, various activities ranging from food delivery to fuel provision, security and emergency services, and wildlife crime operations are continuing, according to South African National Parks (SANParks).

In a statement, SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said:

“We would like to thank the public for their on-going support in line with government’s strategy to mitigate the impact of COVID 19, we all have an obligation to flatten the curve.”

And while the park’s seeming conversion back into a land belonging to its creatures may seem idyllic, things haven’t been quite so wonderful for other parks in South Africa.

In the Northwest Province bordering Botswana, nine rhinos were poached from the period spanning just before the start of the lockdown on March 23 to April 8, reports the New York Times. The move came as wildlife conservation groups expressed fears that their funding would shrivel up due to the precipitous drop in tourism.

However, four suspected rhino poachers were arrested at Kruger National Park on March 21, right before the lockdown came into effect.

The country’s count of confirmed coronavirus cases has reached at least 2,500 with at least 34 people dying of CoViD-19, according to health authorities.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons |


Police Rescue Dogs Trapped In Car on Sizzling Hot Day, Owners Complain About Broken Window

Elias Marat



Police in the UK acted quickly to save a two dogs locked inside a car in sizzling hot temperatures by smashing open a window, upsetting the car’s owner over the damage.

Officers responded Sunday to reports that a beagle and another dog were trapped in a car parked in the seaside British city of Brighton on a day of boiling heat.

In video captured of the incident, an officer can be seen jamming his baton through a rear window before finally shattering it to free the pooches.

This prompts the car alarm to go off as the car’s owners can be seen rushing toward it, upset over the police intervention.

A woman, standing with her shocked family, says: “You broke my window out!”

One of the officer responded: “It’s a hot day. You shouldn’t be leaving the dog in the car in this weather.”

The incident happened on a day when people across the region flock to the seaside resort city to dip into the beaches amid surging hot temperatures.

The onlooker who filmed the incident noted that the owners seemed unaware of the dangers posed to their pets by weather conditions.

“Where they had parked there is just no shade,” they told The Sun. “It’s directly on the seafront in 25°C (77°F) weather outside – I’ve got no idea what it was inside the car.”

The family was indignant over what they claim was an overreaction by the police.

“At first it was ‘what the f*** are you doing, why did you break my car window? I was only gone for 10 minutes,’” another witness explained.

“The bloke obviously thought he was completely in the right,” they added. “He didn’t really seem to have much empathy.”

According to UK animal welfare group RSPCA, outside temperatures of 22°C (71°F) can reach a brutal 47°C (116.6°F) inside a car within an hour.

“Police officers attended and tried to get a contact number for the owners of the car but were unable,” a Sussex Police spokesperson said. “Officers had no choice but to smash the side window to gain access and a kind member of the public donated a bottle of water.”

Authorities added that the officers let the pet owners off with a stern warning, without ticketing the family or separating their dogs from them.

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Golden Retriever Filmed Giving Woodchuck Ride Across Massachusetts Lake

Elias Marat



There are some occasions when the natural world resembles something we might think belongs to the realm of Disney films but no – it’s simply the animal kingdom in motion.

Such was the case when a dog owner captured amazing footage of her dog giving a ride to a small rodent across a lake in Massachusetts.

Lauren Russel was with her dog, Wally the golden retriever, at Hickory Hills Lake in Lunenburg last month when the dog encountered a woodchuck in the water.

So Wally did one any good dog of his breed would do – he gave his new friend a ride back to shore.

“He was about 100 meters out and a woodchuck, I think, just crawled right up on his back and he swam back to shore with him,” Russell told WCVB on Monday.

She always knew that her Wally was a friendly pooch, but she never imagined something like this.

“We were flabbergasted. It was unbelievable. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” Russell continued.

To top things off, once they arrived onshore, Wally and his fast friend gave each other what appeared to be a kiss.

“They like touched snouts and then he ran away,” Russell said.

You can watch the video of the touching event here:

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Tiny Creature Frozen for 24,000 Years is Brought Back to Life

Elias Marat



A microscopic creature has come back to life and reproduced asexually after 24,000 years of lying dormant in the permafrost of Siberia.

Russian scientists found the tiny freshwater creature, called the bdelloid rotifer, in the rich soil of the Alazeya river of Russia’s far northern Siberan region of Yakutia.

The multicellular organism is common throughout the world and is known to be extremely resilient, capable of surviving extreme cold, dryness, starvation and low oxygen.

While previous research found that it could survive a decade when frozen at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the new study published by the journal Current Biology offers a stunning testimony of the survivability of the tiny animal – which is by far the longest survival period known of any creature in the world.

“Our report is the hardest proof as of today that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of almost completely arrested metabolism,” said Stas Malavin, an author of the study, in a statement.

Malavin’s Soil Cryology Lab in Pushchino, Russia, used a drilling rig to extract the miniscule organism from roughly a dozen feet below the remote Arctic location.

Once the ancient organism thawed, it reproduced on its own through a process of parthenogenesis. Researchers then found that it could withstand repeatedly being frozen and thawed dozens of times due to its innate processes of cell and organ protection.

“The takeaway is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then return back to life – a dream of many fiction writers,” Malavin said.

“Of course, the more complex the organism, the trickier it is to preserve it alive frozen and, for mammals, it’s not currently possible,” the scientist added. “Yet, moving from a single-celled organism to an organism with a gut and brain, though microscopic, is a big step forward.”

Researchers hope that the knowledge gleaned from studying the microscopic organism will bring further insights on how to preserve animals’ cells, tissues and organs – including those belonging to human beings.

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