| The reason for going on a safari is to experience the bush and the animals. Some
safari-goers find some animals less enjoyable, however, and even the most popular species
may turn scary or even dangerous if met under the wrong circumstances.
Some African mammals may become aggressive when faced, for example elephants, buffalos,
hippopotamus, lions and leopards. Incidents involving these (or other) mammals do happen,
but are very rare and can mostly be avoided by behaving wisely.
When inside your safari vehicle, you're safe. When on foot, the basic rules are staying
away from areas if you aren't sure that there are no animals, and staying away from
animals that you do see. Any animal of some size may get aggressive if threatened, or
if young ones or food are threatened.
An animal may behave non-aggressive even though it knows you are there. If you are far
enough away, it doesn't feel threatened by you. But if you move closer, this may change.
Animals in lodges
On most safaris in East
Africa, you watch the animals from a jeep or minibus, which is safe. You may
meet animals, mainly such as monkeys and mongoose,
on foot in lodges
camps. These animals are rarely dangerous, but they are wild, so keep your distance
to them. Even if they behave as were they tame, they may use teeth and claws if feeling
threatened. Also keep unattended doors and windows to your room closed, to prevent monkeys
and ground squirrels from entering searching for food. Never venture outside the lodge
or camp area.
If you move within the lodge area at night, for example to see if you can spot some
nocturnal animals, you may ask a watchman to escort you (tip him afterwards). Nights
are less safe for you, even within the lodge (unless the lodge is fenced). Wild animals
from the surrounding bush may enter the area at night, when the lodge is quiet. We have
seen elephants, buffalos, hippos, lions and leopards at night in lodges and camps.
Don't run from predators
If you meet a large predator while on foot, don't run. Running may trigger the
predator to give chase, and is also quite pointless, as the animal runs twice as fast
as you. If there are two of you (which there should be, especially at night) or more,
move together closely; the predator may then see you as one big opponent, instead of
a couple of small ones. In lodge and camp areas, a predator appearing is usually just
passing through. Let is pass. Slowly back off. Then inform a watchman or other staff
that there are predators around. Tell others to stay away.
A predator closing in on you should be told that you don't like it. Shout at it. Be
dangerous. Pelt it with stones if it comes too close.
Stay in the vehicle
Don't get out of the vehicle unless the driver says it is ok. In many parks,
moving on foot is not only risky but also means breaking the park rules. There are special
places, such as observation points and picnic sites, where it is allowed to get out.
Meeting animals on foot is part of the walking safari concept. Most animals move away
when they become aware of you, which usually happens at some distance (you generally
get closer to animals if you approach them by car). Walking safaris in wildlife areas
should always be escorted by an armed ranger.
If on foot close to lakes or rivers where crocodiles may be found, you should stay at
least 5 m/yd away from the water's edge. Crocs have good camouflage, and may be hiding
in the water to ambush prey approaching on land. Don't leave children unattended.
More about walking safais
Your safari driver will probably do his best to make you see animals hunt, kill or eat
each other. If he doesn't succeed, he will probably at least find you some carcass to
look at. This means, there may be unpleasant scenes awaiting you. If you don't want
to see such, you can look the other direction.
It is rare seeing snakes on safaris. Most snakes try to get out of your way when they
notice you, so they are gone before you have a chance seeing them. But all don't, and
as some East African species have strong or even deadly venoms, you should always look
where you are walking and use a flashlight when walking outdoors at night.
Snakes don't bite because they are evil, but because they are frightened or feel threatened.
For safety reasons, you should stay at least two snake lengths away from any snake you
can't identify as harmless. For the reason of not disturbing the animal, you should
back away even further. Never try to handle a snake unless you know what you are doing.
Seemingly dead snakes may not be dead at all, and should not be approached. And so on.
In short, stay away from snakes.
The only snakes that may regard humans as prey are very large pythons, but they are
not seen very often. Don't leave children unattended where there are pythons around.
Nile crocodiles in Africa regularly kill humans. They are mostly found in fresh water,
but may occur in brackish water and even enter the sea. Be aware when approaching waters
where crocodiles are known to live. Look where you are going, and stay 10 metres/yards
or more from lake and river shores.
Other reptiles and amphibians
There are no poisonous lizards or frogs in East Africa. The largest lizard, the Nile
monitor, is shy but is capable of biting if cornered.
Wash your hands after handling reptiles or amphibians (but rather leave them alone).
Insects and creeping things
You don't see that many insects or creeping things during dry seasons. More appear during
rainy seasons (including beautiful ones, such as butterflies). The same goes for mosquitoes,
which by biting may infect you with malaria,
a life-threatening disease unless properly treated. Mosquitoes thrive in moist and warm
areas, and are most common during rainy seasons, near rivers and lakes, and by the coast.
The mosquitoes that may carry malaria are active at night.
Tsetse flies, which are active during daytime, may infect you with sleeping sickness.
This is very rare to safari-goers, though. The bites hurt a lot, and are reason enough
to kill or chase flies out of the vehicle.
Avoid storing food in your room or tent, as it may attract ants.