All safaris in Africa, like all wildlife safaris, there is an element of risk, that’s what makes them exciting and interesting. While many of the animals encountered can present a threat, the four that need to be watched carefully are; elephant, lion, buffalo and hippo. Most operators and guides on National Park safaris and at the various lodges, will stress basic precautions, required to be taken while game viewing.
On safari in a vehicle:
Always stay in your vehicle when driving in a national game park. Only exit at designated “hides” and follow the rules that will be posted. Don’t stand up or stick anything out of the car. Many safari vehicles are open-topped and the wildlife is generally accustomed to these. But, if you stand up or wave something around on the side, some animals will become annoyed and consequently aggressive.
Drive slowly and carefully. During the wet season the grass can grow quite high and it is not always possible to gauge when a large buffalo or elephant, will step into the middle of the road. Remember, you have to stop if this happens. Buffaloes and elephants are not in the least bit afraid or impressed by you or your vehicle.
Taking a walking safari
If you are on a walking safari, you will no doubt be briefed on safety by your guides. But, there are times when you’ll be walking in Africa and encounter wildlife without a guide. Try and stay downwind from the animal, if the animal catches your scent, you have no idea whether this will make it afraid.
If an animal you approach looks hostile, ensure that you are not in the path of its escape route. Give the animal a clear birth and don’t make any noise to further aggravate the situation. If you encounter an animal that does not welcome your presence, move back slowly and quietly.
Enjoy and always remember safety comes first
Avoid swimming in rivers or lakes unless you are absolutely sure there are no hippos or crocodiles. Hippos are actually the most dangerous of all the big animals. They feed on the banks of the river and if they sense danger will charge and attack whatever lies in their path in order to get back to the safety of the water. If you are camping out in the open always make sure you have something covering you even if it’s just a mosquito net.
Hyenas like to wander around freely and check out camps for leftover food and are especially attracted to protruding objects, so keep your feet and nose inside that tent or net. Always be cautious and wear boots and socks when walking around the bush. There are various venomous snakes and scorpions around that could bite you. Don’t walk around at night in areas where you know there is wildlife present, which can be potentially harmful to you. That includes the areas around lakes where hippo graze and between tents on a camping safari. Enjoy the safari experience and stay safe.