They’re towing the lion.
Footage captured the hilarious moment a massive African lion went toe-to-tow with a safari SUV — clamping down on its tow rope and refusing to let go.
“It was like a big cat playing with a toy,” tour guide Jabulani Salinda, 49, told Kennedy News of the tug-of-roar, which occurred while he was leading a group through Baobab Ridge Game Lodge, South Africa, on Nov. 18.
The animal expert had reportedly been alerted by a colleague that a male lion was in the area. However, when he tried to maneuver his vehicle to get a better look, it became stuck in the dirt and had to be freed with a tow rope.
Unfortunately, their rescue attempt backfired after the big cat in question bit down on their lifeline.
“Before I could pull the rope back in, it caught the eye of the lion,” described the bemused wildlife guide. “He wandered over and grabbed the end of it.”
The accompanying hair-raising clip shows the plains-dwelling predator tugging at the end of the rope like a terrestrial tuna fish as guests guffaw in the background. At one point, the regal beast even tries to wrap the rope around a tree, presumably, to try and anchor the truck in place.
Even after the car pulls away, the stubborn carnivore continues to cling doggedly to the rope, which then drags him along like a water-skier on the Savannah.
Naturally, the safari-goers were initially concerned “that the lion’s interest in the rope would bring him up closer to the jeep,” said Salina. However, the cat tracker realized that the fearsome feline “wasn’t approaching with anger” — rather, he simply “saw the opportunity to play with something new.”
“I calmed them down and we were all able to enjoy the moment,” said Salina of his passengers on their accidental cat-fishing excursion.
Salinda said the tug-of-war finally ended after a group of lionesses strolled past, prompting Simba to release his newfound chew toy and join them, Kennedy News reported.
However, like with the line-biting lion, the wilderness expert hasn’t been able to shake the encounter since.
“I’ve been a tour guide for 19 years and I have never known a lion [to] play like this before,” he said.
This isn’t the first time someone has witnessed animals behaving strangely while on safari. Early this month, a stalwart buffalo in South Africa was filmed incredibly standing its ground against a white rhino more than three times its size — despite getting charged and hoisted off the ground.
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