“Tiny Challenger: Millipede’s Fearless Climb onto Lion’s Formidable Tail”


This millipede has the undivided attention of a group of sub-adult lions. The lions are pretty relaxed about the situation until the millipede attempts to crawl on top of one.

While on safari in the MalaMala Game Reserve, senior ranger Nic Nel shared a truly amusing sighting with

“We headed out as usual on an afternoon game drive to find some lions. Shortly after some searching, we stumbled across a small pride of lions. The pride consisted of two adult females and multiple young cubs. The lions were all pretty relaxed, close to a waterhole. Even the normally playful cubs were having an afternoon snooze.”

Lions are nocturnal mammals. This means they will rest during the heat of the day and store energy for nighttime activities. Hunting, family bonding, and playtime usually take place when it’s cool. This mostly happens in the late afternoon, nighttime, or early morning. However, that does not mean they will give up the opportunity to have fun if it presents itself during the day.

“While observing the sleeping lions. We noticed a small visitor appear in the middle of the pride – a millipede. Cats are curious animals. One of the cubs noticed this small creature moving along and moved closer to inspect the visitor. The reaction from this cub triggered a domino effect, and slowly all the little cubs made their way to this tiny millepede.”


“Eventually, one of the cubs decided to have a closer look, and as he went in for a little smell, he was unpleasantly surprised and moved off quite comically. That’s because millipedes have a small amount of cyanide, and perhaps the smell was too strange for the youngster.”

A lesson from this sighting is: don’t rush your sighting. When watching sleeping lions, or a resting leopard, don’t leave the sighting too quickly. Spending more time at sightings will allow you to witness them interacting with each other or, if you’re lucky, with other species.

“At this point, the cubs began losing interest in the millepede and made their way back to mum. The two adult females also then rose from their slumber and began moving. Nightfall was approaching, and perhaps dinner was on their minds.”


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