South Africans are no strangers to dealing with unexpected visits from local wildlife. Cape Town's baboons are known for their particularly bold antics, while their smaller – but equally cunning cousins – the vervet monkeys practically own the suburbs across much of the country. Rock hyraxes (or dassies) scuttle into drains or lounge on sunny rocks, snakes get themselves into all sorts of weird places, and the occasional hungry raptor swoops in to snatch a puppy. But lions lazing on the patio? That's pretty crazy even by South African standards.

Image © David de Beer

When David de Beer visited his father's house in the Leadwood Big Game Estate in Limpopo Province recently, he found a pride of very relaxed-looking lions sprawled out on the tiled floor of the patio like overgrown house cats. The pride hardly acknowledged de Beer when he entered a room adjoining the covered patio – a room that provided little more than a line of glass-paned doors to separate human from big cats. It was only when a loud noise alerted the lions to de Beer's presence that they sprung up and (reluctantly) began to move off. 


With the house currently on the market, de Beer joked that "someone has already moved in." Leadwood Big Game Estate forms part of a swathe of private reserves that hug the eastern border of South Africa's famed Kruger National Park. The 5,500-hectare reserve – sandwiched between the Kruger Park and the Blyde River Canyon – is home to a healthy population of predators and plains game, so sightings like this are not entirely uncommon.

Lions are curious by nature and records of the big cats investigating camp showers or strolling past guest shops pop up from time to time. Thankfully this pride eventually went on their way, their presence either adding to the value of the property or greatly reducing it depending on who's interested!

Image © David de Beer
Image © David de Beer

Header image: alcuin lai, Flickr