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 Post subject: Mammals: Q & A
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 11:23 am 
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I was wondering: obviously running into wild animals happen and it's something we have to accept and live with. Some of you guys know the wild much better than most of us. What do we tell a bunch of city kids like mine when they want to know what they should do when having a close encounter.
Maybe a guy like TwoBoy has some valuable safety tips?


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 Post subject: Rule no1
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 11:52 am 
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Rule no1 for lions, leopards and most other dangerous stuff, santie is don't run!! Their instincts will them immediatly to kill you as prey.

Move back slowly to get out of that so-called danger zone. After moving out that zone in which the animal will decide to attack, it will rather try and flee, which is good.

As for elephants, black rhino and buffalo,... pray! No tree or bush or car will stop them. Remember one thing: No-one can outrun any of the big 5!

Always make sure when walking with a guide that you listen to his commands. Keep cool and think!


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Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:18 pm 
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As has been said, don't run! For any hunting animal especially this will cause instinct to kick in as you are behaving just like prey. Similarly running from a domestic dog which is growling is not a great idea.

Leopards it's best to back away slowly. I bumped into a number of them on foot as a kid and lived to tell the tale each time by simply respecting it's space and moving quietly away without causing a fuss. Lions I have no experience with outside of a vehicle (when they did occasionally escape Kruger and come up our way my Dad wouldn't allow us to go out even on horseback), but apparently they are cowards. While the rule is the same - back away slowly, don't make a fuss or a noise, should they charge they can apparently be turned away by standing your ground and even shouting (low pitch if possible as a high pitched scream denotes fear, not authority). We once gave an army tracker in Kruger a lift back to Nelspruit and he kept us entertained with lion encounter stories the whole way back, and agreed with this. Fortunately I've never actually been charged by a leopard, but they are apparently the opposite of lion. They don't charge unless they mean it. Definitely best not to annoy them!

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 2:21 pm 
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As said by most:

Lion, Leopard, Hyena : DON'T RUN AWAY OR TURN YOUR BACK ON THEM. They will attack immediatly. Back up slowly.

Also, when you see a Lion in a bush who has not spotted you, try to just continue walking a listen. When a lion or most other predators are relaxing or especially with a female with small ones. When they know their camouflage has been discovered, they have two options, run or attack. Guess which one they will do.

On Hippo's - Don't get between them and the water especially....That is their safety haven and they will kill you to get there. DO NOT try to run away from them. They are very fast and also quite agile in jumping. Best is to find the nearest tree that will hold you and get up into it.

Same for buffalo..find a tree and climb.

Don't try to take on a baboon. They will tear you to bits ... dangerous teeth.

Warthog.......pick a tree and move...they can seriously injure you.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 2:26 pm 
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Ah yes - and snakes... Keep still! Dead still if possible. Fortunately it seems for most (all?) of them that you'll fade into the background, but they'll strike for movement.

My horse and I once survived a black mamba this way (it's head was up at the horse's shoulder level! :shock: ), so it turns out this isn't an old wives tale after all.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:56 pm 
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You can never have a hard and fast rule. It's more a case of common sense. My rule is to give everything it's space and don't do dumb things.

The biggest potential to getting yourself hurt is by trying to take the animals space away so it feels threatened. Just stay a safe distance away - that really is all that is needed.

Some things are really obvious. Don't get too close to hippo anywhere, lone buffalo bulls are just waiting to put a horn up you know where, and rhino and elephant are definitely not suitable as playmates. Hooting will enrage some elephants so this would be very dumb. Animals with young are very protective so potentially more of a problem. Lion seem to prefer ignoring you or moving off. Maybe I've been lucky with leopard but despite getting very close to them I can record no incidents.

When walking, wear proper boots, not the rubbish sold for hundreds or even thousands of rand which any bug can bite through. They are not fashion accessories, they are there to protect you from all sorts of things. This I can say with authority having walked thousands of miles through big game country.

Never make unnecessary noise, you will either see nothing or get someting mad at you.

Your most important asset is your eyes. Look where you are going and at your surroundings and keep a cool head. What you see and where you are determines what you need to do. I do not think that walking around the bush is suitable for townpeople, especially kids. They don't have a feel for it, the same way as bushpeople don't really feel at home in a city. You are out of your natural surroundings so that is when things are likely to go wrong. People who go on bushwalks must be fit enough to handle them properly.

This is a controversial thread - so many things make a difference and there a few hard and fast rules.

This all reminds me of a grave I once came across way out in the bush - I can't remember the man's name now but the headstone claimed "killed by his 270th or 370th elephant in Kawambwa's country". Makes one think, doesn't it. Enough said.


Last edited by TwoBoy on Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:41 am 
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The only other tips I would add to those already expressed are that, should you walk into any of the 'dangerous game' at a rest stop or in camp, you should walk back at 45 degrees while looking for something substantial to hide in or behind (such as a building, vehicle or termite mound) or to climb (a sturdy tree, preferrably not a thorn tree!) and, if these tactics are not available (or are unsuitable, as in the case of elephants and trees) you could try making an unusual noise, such as whistling loudly, which could scare the animal and cause it to run away. Leopards are particularly dangerous as they will disappear and then reappear from different angles!
As you should not actually be walking in Big 5 country unless you are at a rest stop or in camp or with an experienced guide, you should not normally encounter this problem

If all else fails you could could of course pray..... :)


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 Post subject: Warning Signs that you are too close
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 9:14 am 
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I thought I'd share a bit of info for anyone going to the park.

When you approach an animal, be alert and on the lookout for certain signs that the animal does when you are getting to close:

ELEPHANTS : If you see the ears go back and the trunk being rolled between the Tusks, then I suggest getting out of there very quickly. This is the pose taken by any elephant when it is going to storm you. Ask Duques, he will tell you...

LIONS : Short continues coughing sounds (almost like "ugh"). That means you have entered the space in which they regard you as a threat..

Any other warning signs from the others.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 10:05 am 
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When you have your window wound up so that just your lens (38mm) is sticking out, and the male lion's head is still too close to fit into the frame!

As you said with the elephant. Actually, this can happen even when you don't mean it to. When I was 21 and living in Hoedspruit I'd go into Kruger alone most weekends in my little green Volksie (usually causing much concern at picnic spots - apparently it isn't normal to find young women driving around the park alone...). Once, while going along a sand road - can't remember which one - to a loop, at about 35Km/hour I gave an ellie a bit of a fright, despite being below the speed limit. He came charging out of the bush at me, screaming and trumpeting, and followed my tiny car and I to the end of the loop where I thanked God for the tight turning circle on Volksies and had no choice but to drive back passed him to escape. Ever since that day I've taken speed signs in the park to mean that speed -10! :shock:

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 11:42 am 
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One quiet afternoon my hubby and I were parked at a water hole where we were waiting for the afternoon drinking rush to begin. It was all quiet but as we sipped our sundowners we were kept amused by the goings on of the hornbills bickering with each other in a bush next to the car. I was driving and our attention was directed out the driver window. The next thing I know my husband is quietly trying to get my attention in a most persistant way. When I turned to see what he was going on about I was met with the sight of a white rhino's head almost in the passenger window. We had inadvertantly parked over a game path and the old boy was patiently waiting for us to move. Here comes the dilema - to start or not to start the car, while in neutral, we tried rocking the car to get it to move backwards, nothing happened so I was left with no choice but to start the car, talk about a cringe moment, every sound seemed exagerated! We reversed back and the rhino walked on past, stopping briefly infront of the car to give us a look and then mosey on off. I still can't believe he crept up on us so quietly. My better half said it was the heavy breathing that alerted him to the nosey visitor. Now - that's too close!

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 5:39 pm 
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Talking about warning signs from animals, bwana and I had two close encounters of the ellie kind when we went in October. We were behind the Muntshe mountain on the loop when an elephant cow with a calf came across the road right in front of us! She did'nt look too happy! She kept looking over at us and flapping her head and making her ears flap out. bwana wanted to go closer to get a picture and I was like no way! We backed off and she passed with her young one. Phew! The other encounter we had was with two bull elephants who seemed to be eating peacefully off a tree when we approached. Next thing they were checking us out and started running towards the road. I quickly reversed and they just went across. We had to go past them to get to our camp and as I drove the one started to charge and trumpeted at us! It was really scary! :shock: Now I'm really scared of what elephants are actually capable of and I'm nervous in case they are down in a loop and there is no escape route!

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 Post subject: Animals Q & A
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:55 am 
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KNP Predator gene pools

I was lying in bed last night thinking about how we've forced wild animals to live only in certain fenced in area's, and how bad this must be for the gene pools of animals who are not great in number. I suppose for Impala and such it will take a lot longer to become a problem, but for cheetah in particular, and also for lion (leopard don't seem to have too much respect for fences 8) ) how do SANParks try to ensure that the gene pools are kept diverse? I suppose lion from the South of the park can't be taken North because of TB, but perhaps males from the north could occasionally be introduced to the South? Or perhaps swapped between parks?

Just wondering, or are they left to their own devices?

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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 6:56 am 
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Cheetah in particular have a very small gene pool , and also
from one area to another there genes are all very similar , they are all virtually brothers and sisters , even say from ktp to kruger.

As for lions , when males and females are kicked out the pride ,
they can move great distances to establish new prides , so im sure there genes are fairly well spread .

An animal with problem genes is the buffalo , where inbreeding is a problem , so it makes you wonder what will happen to other animals with smaller population groups , hopefully with the incorporating of the zim and moz parks into kruger it will be a huge boost to gene diversity , another plus point for the trans-frontier park .

Animals where genes from domestic animals are being mixed into wild animals , such as the African wild cat is another threat in the gene department , where wild cats frequently mate with domestic cats , causing the true wild cat species to become endangered due to watering down of its true gene .

This is an area where smaller parks are of great importance in that issues with small gene pools in species can be seen , and rectified/studied far quicker than an area like kruger , where when you have a gene problem in its say 1500 strong lion population you really have a big problem , compared to a reserve with 30 lions .


Last edited by bucky on Wed Dec 21, 2005 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 5:32 pm 
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The gene problems among predators in southern Africa are in some cases extremely serious. And some of the species could be denoted as "living deads" i.e. their genetical fitness is in such poor condition that they will not survival a major-moderate change (e.g. disease or climate change). The cheetah is one such species. This feline has apparently experienced two bottle-necks in "modern" time. Consequently, its genetic diversity is practically none.

Fences, in combination with the fragmentation of the predator's habitats, leads to populations being cut of from each other and small isolated and inbreed aggregation follows (e.g. the african wild dog). These populations are also more vulnerable to so called "selective sweeps". That is, advantageous mutations have easier to get established in the small populations and they sometime, among others due to linkage with other genes, decrease the genetic diversity even more.

Translocation of animals between different protected areas is one way to solve some of the problems. But with the slow reproductive predators there are risks of outbreeding depressions. Something that is equally as bad as inbreeding ditto.

Without knowing for sure, I have my doubts that SANParks in general and KNP in particular have the resources to do the genetic survey needed, in order to established which populations need new genes, and from where these genes should be taken.
To add an extra dimension to the problem, the mtDNA diversity (mitochondrial DNA) have so far been totally ignored in conservation matters, but recent findings indicate that it plays a pivotal role in the inbreeding/outbreeding problem. And examining both the nDNA (nuclear DNA) and mtDNA is not something that SANParks (or any other wildlife/conservation organization?) can afford.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:00 pm 
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Is it true, for the dangerous male ostrich, that a piece of bush or stick will keep them at bay?

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