A tour guide had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “enjoy” the tug-of-war game with a wild African lion when he was guiding a group through Baobab Ridge Game Lodge, South Africa.
The incident occurred on Nov. 18 when Jabulani Salinda, 49, was driving his safari SUV, leading his group for a sightseeing view, then his college informed him about an unexpected appearance of a male lion in the area, New York Post reported.
When Salinda attempted to navigate his vehicle for a better look, the truck got stuck in the dirt, prompting him to throw a tow rope to escape.
The situation became even worse when the massive lion in question suddenly showed up to his surprise. The giant creature acted like a “hero,” trying to rescue the truck by grasping the rope and pulling it.
Footage shared by Daily Mail reveals the scene that the “king-of-the-forest” tugged on the rope, nothing different from a stranded fish struggling to escape the hook. It seemed that he was trying to “rescue” the trapped truck by wrapping the rope around a tree, anchoring it in place.
Salinda described the amazing but scary moment: “Before I could pull the rope back in, it caught the lion’s eye. He wandered over and grabbed the end of it.”
Finally, Jabulani managed to drive away by moving his truck to a 45-degree angle. However, the persistent predator showed no sign of wanting to end the game but kept clinging tenaciously to the rope, making him initially stagger slightly.
Then the truck dragged him along like a surfer riding ocean waves.
“It was funny for me because I didn’t think of it just as a lion playing with a rope; it was like a big cat playing with a toy,” Jabulani said in excitement, Daily Mail reported.
At first, the safari visitors felt worried that the big cat could chase and approach the truck at a close distance. They eventually sighed a breath of relief when learning that all the lion wanted was to try a new game.
Jabulani said that the lion did not exhibit any anger or attacking moves.
“I calmed them down, and we were all able to enjoy the moment,” the long-term tour guide said.
The wild big cat just decided to give up the game when a lioness group passed by, urging him to let go of the new-detected toy, leaving the “playground” and joining the group.
Expressing his amazement about the interesting confrontation with the lion, Jabulani said: “I’ve been a tour guide for 19 years, and I have never known a lion [to] play like this before.”