Set of photographs show lions biting at and finally destroying the tyre of a Land Rover while the passengers of the vehicle look on apprehensively.
It is unclear exactly where or by whom the photographs were taken but there is no reason to doubt their authenticity. There have been many verified reports of lions and other big cats chewing at car tyres.
Subject: Africa is no place for sissies
This series of photographs is currently circulating via email and is also a popular topic for various blogs and online forums.
Young lionesses stalked several cars in the Krugersdorp Lion Park at the weekend, terrifying the occupants, then attacked one car, chewing the tyres and scratching bodywork.The images depict lions apparently chewing through a tyre of a Land Rover 4WD while the vehicle’s worried passengers watch warily from within.
Although it is so far unclear exactly where or by whom the photographs were taken, there is no reason to doubt their authenticity. There have long been reports of lions and other big cats chewing at car tyres. It has been suggested by experts that lions, being curious animals, may be intrigued by the rubbery smell and warmth of car tyres and therefore exhibit the chewing behaviour.
It seems quite possible that the photographs were snapped at a lion park near Krugersdorp in South Africa which is well known for such tyre chomping incidents. A 2005 report published in the South African news section of News24 notes:
Alwyna Holtzhausen of Centurion told on Monday how the lioness and 10 others in the pride attacked more than one vehicle in the park on Saturday afternoon.
Holtzhausen now has a chewed car tyre, a dislodged windscreen wiper and deep scratches on her car’s bumper and paintwork.
Another News24 article published in 2007 indicates that such tyre chewing incidents are not uncommon:
Beeld readers on Thursday told the newspaper about lions at a lion park near Krugersdorp that love to ‘attack’ tourist vehicles and demolish tyres.
Gert Moller is one Beeld reader who related his experience with lions at the Rhino and Lion Park at Kromdraai outside the town.
A young male lion made a meal of the tyre of another car during his visit.
The game warden tried to distract the lion by getting closer in a bakkie, but he ignored him and just kept on chomping on the tyre.
Visitors to the park are handed leaflets advising that the lions sometimes chew tyres and there are also warning signs in place.
A label on the back of the Land Rover indicates that the vehicle was supplied by a dealership located in Potchefstroom, a South African town within easy driving range of the Krugersdorp Lion Park.
The caption that comes with the photographs claims that the lions “chomped through all four tyres and the spare, 3 of them while the vehicle was moving”. While this claim may quite possibly be true – the images show that the lions do bite at the spare tyre and one front tyre – it appears that only one of the vehicle’s tyres, the right rear, has actually been destroyed at the time that the last photograph was snapped.
Regardless of the exact details of the incident, it is easy to see why the hapless inhabitants of the Land Rover look so apprehensive in the photographs. A first hand report from visitors to an unnamed South African lion park tells of a harrowing incident in which several lions attached a Volkswagen beetle and destroyed its tyres. The visitors were effectively trapped in their small vehicle until park attendants finally came to rescue them.
Some commentators have suggested that the Land Rover’s rear tyre may have already been flat before the lions began their rubber chomping. This might explain why the vehicle is apparently stationary despite the “No Stopping” sign clearly visible in the first photograph.
Last updated: April 22, 2013
First published: August 26, 2008
By Brett M. Christensen