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Mammals: Q & A

Find, identify and discuss the animals of all the SANParks

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Unread postby Wild@Heart » Fri Jan 21, 2005 2:21 pm

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 postby TwoBoy » Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:56 pm

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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Unread postby Tabs » Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:41 am

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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Warning Signs that you are too close

Unread postby Wild@Heart » Fri Jan 28, 2005 9:14 am

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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Handeling Dangerous Animals

Unread postby Mars » Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:16 am

After my posting ''Animals in camps safety question'' I did some reading and a little research and come across the following:


It is believed that a Hyena will not easily charge/attack a human that is taller and bigger than the Hyena, that is why small children are a better target, They will usually avoid humans by day, but in some rare cases have attacked humans during daylight, The most records is Hyena's attacking sleeping people as mentioned in a few postings as well ...

They are cowardly animals, and one Hyena alone will usually avoid you or run away, if they are a few they become brave. The best thing to do is act very agressive and make alot of noise.


Not much info on the cheetah, it will usuallly avoid humans and run away, it will get more aggresive like any other animal if there are small cups... One important thing is not to turn your back on it... and move away slowly


Also as with other animals, more dangerous with cups and when wounded. It is believed that you must never make direct eye contact with a Leopard, this will trigger an attack. Some cases have been reported where Leopard allow people to pass, when no direct contact have been made, it becomes agressive when it have ''been spotted''. Also a loud noise and acting agressive might put of an attack. If you are attack your last hope will be to try and hit it on the nose, but once on a full attack only a bullut will stop it, again move away, rather sideways than backwards and don't turn your back ...

Don't throw anything at a Leopard, this will trigger agression. When you see a Leopard continue walking slowly, don't stop or stare...


If you approach a lion do it slowly and softly, sudden movement will trigger a possible attack, and running away will get you run down... If a lion attacks you have to stand ground, shout make noises and not move, keeping your eyes on the lion... It will 99 % of the time stop a meter or two away from you, do the same with the second charge.


Rhino's have poor eye sight and depend more on their smell and hearing. White rhino's are usually more peacefull than black rhino's but cases of both attacking have been reported...

A rhino will usually , ''snore'' if it gets irritated, it is a very curios animal and will investigate by galloping closer to you. If it does charge , shouting and throwing things at it will most of the time stop it. If it gives a total full charge it is best to keep something like a tree or big rock between you, or climb in a tree

If there is nothing the last hope is to wait, it will charge with its head up to get a better sight, and at the last moments drop it's head, at that point you throw a bag or something at it, and sidestep out of the way, it can't turn that fast in a full charge. A warning shot will also do it...

The black rhino is much faster in turns that the white rhino, by standing or lying perfectly still it might loose interest in you.


Elephants are usually peacfull but get irritated by cars and humans getting to close and may then show signs of aggresion, an elephant have a great memory and might charge a car that reminds them of something long ago. Tuskless elephants and young bulls have a repetation of being agressive. Also females with little ellies around. Never get between a animal and their young ...

With elephants reaching speed of up to 40 km/h you won't outrun it, most of the time there will be a mock charge, if the elephant is however charging, and no noises stops it, you make a run for it, run turning constantly left and right, on open ground in a straight line it will catch you. You can't hide in a tree.

The elephant's eyesight is not good, so once you turn enough and are out of sight it will loose interest.

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Tourist Intervention in Nature

Unread postby zeedoc » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:16 pm

You may have read my post under rare sightings ( page 9 )regarding a tourist who picked up an african wild cat kitten found stranded in the middle of the berg en dal road ( the kitten refused to move off the road- probably out of fear and bewilderment - and would have been run over had the tourist not removed it and taken it to berg en dal camp)

I have witnessed a similar incident regarding an injured steenbok near skukuza

The question is - what should a visitor to a national park do in such circumstances? Should we standby and let nature take its course or should we intervene?

Their are actually two questions -
What should we do?
What would you do?

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Unread postby Wild@Heart » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:21 pm

Zeedoc .. actually very easy to answer ..

What should we do?
Report it to the nearest camp with time location etc, and do not handle the animal, insect, reptile or bird.

What would I do?
Report it to the nearest camp with time location etc, and do not handle the animal, insect, reptile or bird.

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Unread postby christo » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:25 pm

Agree with W@H. Tourists usually do not have enough knowledge to intervene without disturbing something. Leave it to the experts, even if it seems cruel.
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Unread postby phoenix911 » Sat Sep 30, 2006 7:38 pm


Can anyone tell me how you differentiate between a mail and female rain spider?

also, what do they eat?

Much appreciated

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Oct 02, 2006 6:28 am

By default the female spiders are bigger than the males.

Maybe some more expert person can tell us what they eat. :wink:
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Unread postby david » Mon Oct 02, 2006 7:26 am

the females are often recognised by the width of the abdomen being greater than the width of the cephalothorax. In males it is the other way around - the cephalothorax is wider than the abdomen. However, if a female has just laid her eggs, it will be probably difficult to determine gender (unless you were naughty and watched her in her private moments of birth giving tsk tsk) as the abdomen will then almost certainly be narrower.

Eating... insects, moths, flies, roaches, naughty children etc. Often their activity is increased by rain, so on rainy evenings, they often come into dwellings, attracted by the insects which are attracted by the lights.

easy way to get rid of them, rather than playing squash, is use a large glass bottle, (clear glass is better) and place it over them, slide paper underneath, walk to your garden wall, and fling it in your neighbours direction.....

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Unread postby DuQues » Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:35 am

Family: Sparassidae (previously Heteropodidae)

Phylum: Arthropoda,
subphylum Chelicerata,
class Arachnida,
order Araneae,
suborder Araneomorpha

Image Image
(The one found in my tent in Punda Maria. Not quite sharp unfortunately.)

In South Africa the Sparassidae include 7 genera; Eusparassus, Heteropoda, Olios, Palystes, Panaretella, Parapalystes and Pseudomicrommata. Olios, Palystes and Parapalystes are the most common genera in the Western Cape. Palystes common names include huntsman spiders, rain spiders, lizard-eating spiders and large wandering crab spiders.

This family contains very large hairy spiders with legs all turned sideways and forwards so the spiders can move sideways as well as straight ahead. The outer segments of each leg have dense scopulae which facilitate lateral movements. The typical body and leg colours are grey, brown and black, often with enough mottling to provide useful camouflage when the spiders are resting on bark surfaces. It is usual to find huntsman spiders under bark, although they will sometimes be found on the walls of man-made constructions.
They are very fast-moving, and they can deliver a painful bite. Please note that ALL true spiders have a certain amount of venom. Although most people are not affected by this species, some people may be allergic to the venom, or just more sensitive, making it a dangerous situation. This is one of the reasons that people should not handle this true spider. Affects of this true spiders' natural defenses may vary between people.

Palystes occurs mainly on plants where it hunts various insects but is also regularly found in the home where they are fond of hunting Geckos (usually the common Marbled gecko, Afrogecko porphyreus). Spiderlings eat flightless fruit flies, and pinhead crickets. Adults eat crickets, and other large insects.

source 1, source 2 and a very good page
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Food Chain Question

Unread postby naomirsa » Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:25 am

Sorry, i did not know where else to post this. Can someone
please provide me with an example of a typical food chain found in the Kruger National Park?
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Unread postby zeedoc » Sat Oct 14, 2006 10:49 am

food chain - bottom up -
a. termite - ant - aardvark - leopard - man
b. leaves - impala - caracal - leopard - man
c. Shrimp - catfish - fish eagle - caracal - lion - man
d. cricket - scorpion - genet - martial eagle - caracal - lion - man

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Re: Food Chain Question

Unread postby Jay » Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:10 pm

sorry naomirsa, meant to answer this ages ago :redface:

as you most probably know the first trophic level of the food chain is the producers so lets take the sweet grasses as the producers, this is then eaten by the next trophic level which would be the impala (which are considered the "staple diet" of many predators) the primary consumers, these in turn are eaten by lion, ( the secondary consumers) the lion may die of old age, or become too ill to defend itself in which case it will then be eaten by hyena(tertiary consumer). The hyena may in turn die and will then be fed on by vultures and finally be broken down to simpler organic matter by detritus feeders such as maggots and finally to inorganic matter(future plant nutrients) by decomposers, and then it starts again when the grass absorbs the nutrients...
hope thats what you were asking?

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