Seeking Casper, the Ghost of Kruger National Park

Posted on 8 April 2021 By Anita Froneman

The Kruger National Park is home to the famous Casper, one of the very few white lions in the Park.

According to Big on Wild, Casper was born in 2014 around the Satara area and was fathered by one of the Shishangaan male lions.

Many have gone on safari expeditions in the hopes to glimpse this elusive big cat, but not all who seek him are so lucky. Photographer Armand Grobler did come across Casper in a very unusual way after years of searching for him. Here is his special encounter.




It was 05:33am when my phone’s ringing broke the silence of a quiet Kruger morning at the Satara Rest Camp. It was a call from my friend and fellow photographer Louis who had just departed camp for a morning drive several minutes before me.

Louis had found Casper on the H7 road and I drove straight there, joining a queue of approximately 15 vehicles already on site. I had been desperate to photograph Casper for over six years.

I could see the ghastly white colour of his pale pelt shining brightly in the gloom; being a white lion, Casper’s white fur stood out significantly in the darkness prior to dawn, making him relatively easy to find on the tarmac road.

Eventually, I reached viewing point, as he laid almost completely hidden in the towering grass, when a SANParks staff vehicle carrying six people standing on the back drove past, chasing all four lions deep into the bush. I felt my heart sink and a sense of frustration build up that would last the entire day. I couldn’t believe it, I had come so close only to lose my precious opportunity due to people standing on the back of a ‘bakkie,’ sending the lions running. I was devastated.

The next day, it was Louis’ birthday and I was celebrating with him and some friends, enjoying the tranquillity of the afternoon by the boundary fence, with a scenic view of the bush surrounding the camp. Then someone yelled: ‘Hey isn’t that the white lion?’ pointing past me to the bush behind. I couldn’t believe it, there just outside the camp fence was Casper and his three brothers clearly visible, staring eerily in our direction.

I jumped into my vehicle and drove around, hoping and praying that he may, against all odds, cross over the road for me to finally get the opportunity I had been so desperate for. Then, out of nowhere, like a ghost from the shadows, he appeared, eventually crossing right in front of my vehicle, followed closely by his brothers. I looked at the scars on hos fur of untold battles, a victor and true warrior. With one final glance back, he disappeared into the dense scrub like mist on a hot morning.

I sat stunned, with a sense of happiness and content I had not experienced in a long time. As I thought of how this story unfolded, I laughed at the irony of it all. Six years of searching for this lion, only for him to eventually find me.

Pictures: Armand Grobler

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