Eric Ubisi, a safari ranger at Manyeleti Game Reserve in Tintswalo, South Africa was seated on his jeep relaxing the afternoon sun when he got an almighty fright. A lion taking a stroll happened upon him as he sat unarmed and exposed. For the briefest of moments, man and beast locked eyes and Eric sat perfectly still, one wrong move and he may have been lunch.
Despite the terrifying encounter, Eric who was with fellow rangers David Jacobs and Anton van Loggerenberg later claimed he knew he was in no real danger.
He said: ‘I enjoyed it and knew the lion was going to walk past without harming me. I knew the lion was relaxed and I have been watching him every day since he was a cub and know his behaviour.
‘They are our resident pride.’
The Tintswalo Safari Lodge said it adheres to the strictest safety measures and precautions, and the highly experienced staff knew that in this position, the best thing to do was to stay still.
One of his colleagues managed to capture the moment perfectly, and David said: ‘We were out on a game drive with our guest when we spotted three young male lions on buffalo planes. We positioned our vehicle in a way that offered our guest optimal viewing, when the lions all stood up and approached the vehicle.
‘One lay down behind the vehicle and the other one moved towards the front and briefly stopped and looked at Eric, so I was unable to back away.’
‘I asked Eric if he was comfortable and he said he was fine. I observed no aggressive behaviour from the lions. It was a very brief encounter and after a few minutes, the lion walked off and lay down about ten metres away.’