Every time we visit the wild, we come back with beautiful memories and amazing stories to tell. However, a few of us have come back with different tales. They have been lucky to be alive to tell them.
If necessary precaution is not taken in the wild, one may come home injured or worse, in a body bag. Each reserve or park has its own rules which are always given before the tour by every good tour guide. Some are written at the gate so that every visitor can read.
Amongst those rules or precautions, there are those easily forgotten or overlooked by the visitors coming in. They are simple instructions, but if not adhered to could cost a life.
- Don’t feed the animals
There are clear signs all over parks and sites instructing visitors not to feed the animals. Many visitors will, however, ignore these signs and feed the animals. Why?
These animals are so cute and it’s a lot of fun to feed them. Plus some of them look so hungry and sad. Please don’t give in. You’ll be doing more harm than good.
Most human food is not good for animals and might cause digestion problems and deformity such as ‘angel wing’ in birds. Feeding animals also increases dependency on humans which lowers their ability to survive in the wild and increases their aggression towards humans and other animals. This aggression is likely to cause injury and spread disease amongst themselves and towards humans.
- Don’t get out of the car
The Kenyan park rules advice visitors to stay in vehicles at all times unless when in a designated picnic or walking areas. I know you’re wondering what if you need to pee. My worry is- can you outrun a hungry lion?
Predators are not the only animals you need to be cautious about. There are herbivores such as rhinos, hippos and buffalos that can cause major injuries and even kill. As a matter of fact, hippos kill the most people in Africa than any other animal.
Get out to pee at your own risk. Just don’t say you were not warned.
- Get precautionary jabs or pills for kids and pets
Keep your pets on a leash or at safe confined areas. For the kids, ensure that they do not roam alone in the campsite or in the nature trails.
Don’t forget to get your pets and kids the pre-exposure jabs or pills. Before travelling, ensure your kids (and yourself) have taken anti-malarial pills and your pets have gotten the rabies vaccine.
- Wear appropriate gear
It’s interesting how people take lightly the type of clothing they carry to camps and safari. It is good to learn about the weather and the activities that you’ll be involved in.
If you’re going to be doing expeditions on foot, ensure that you have tough shoes to protect you from snake bites, scorpion bites and sharp thorns. In places where there is the scorching sun, ensure that you have a good hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes and (gorgeous) face.
It would be too bad to go home with painful sunburns or get poisonous bites from insects and crawlers.
- Pack appropriately
How you pack could determine how pleasant your trip in the wild will be. Ensure you carry insect repellant to protect you from ticks that could spread zoonotic diseases.
Carry clean water and snacks to avoid eating in places where you’re not sure of sanitation. Take enough water to avoid unpleasant cases of dehydration. In case you have prescriptions, make sure you carry them depending on the time you’ll be travelling. Travel: 17 Common Packing Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Holiday
- Check your bed before sleeping
Remember how as kids you’d check under the bed and in the closet for monsters? Turns out it was not a dumb idea as you were meant to believe.
In areas where snakes are prevalent, they sometimes hide in the bed to keep warm. Just because they’re cold-blooded doesn’t mean they like getting cold. Make sure, especially if you’re sleeping in tents, that you check for these not-so-friendly creatures and also ensure that your tent is completely sealed at all times.
Snakes also like to hide in shoes, trees, toilets, shower and campfire wood. Don’t worry, they will run off scared if they see you first. If you see them, call a guide. Make sure the door to bathroom and toilet are locked always.
- Do not litter
Littering is not only bad for the environment but it is bad for you. If every visitor litters, especially in camping and picnic sites, it will have negative effects in the long run.
In Kenya, we don’t have to worry too much about attracting bears, but we should worry about primates, birds and small carnivores attracted to trash. Remember, they could get aggressive. Plastics and polythene papers can hold water and become breeding sites for insects like the mosquito. You might not catch malaria at this specific site, but karma will get you.
- Have a first-aid kit
Medical emergencies could occur when you are too deep in the wild. You could bring it from home or consult with your travel guide on where to get it. Anything could happen. It’s better to be prepared.
In case you have allergies. Please carry your anti-allergy medication. I have a friend whose face gets so swollen after a bee sting that he’s technically blind for hours. Only you would understand your weird allergies. Be prepared for them.
- Have an escape plan
What would you do if you encountered a lion face-to-face? Imagine you’ve gone to pee in the bushes and while at it your eyes met a stern gaze from perverted buffalo.
Here’s another one. Do you know what it means when an elephant flaps its ears? Is it happy to meet your acquaintance?
If you are planning to visit a game park or a forest, research and inquire about what to do if you encounter dangerous animals. When injuries and deaths from wild animals are relatively few in Africa, an informed reaction could save your life.
For example, when an elephant flaps its ears towards your vehicle, run! It doesn’t like you. Period. If you see a lion and it sees you, play dead and hope it just had lunch. If it hasn’t seen you, hide and be still. For buffalo and rhinos, climb a nearby tree as fast as you can. Of course, some of these methods are debated around by different wildlife experts. Also playing dead doesn’t work all the time. Just know how to run and where to go.
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