I admit that the title is a little provocative. But I must say that I saw attitudes on safari that were totally disrespectful to animals, the ecosystem or other travellers. Either way, it is a little bit of these people that I am talking about through my article.
But beware; at one time or another, you can be one of them, at least on one of the 10 points. Let’s take these 10 ways of not being a jerk on a safari as a guide to good conduct.
I RESPECT THE SPEED LIMITS
In some reserves, especially those open to self-game-drive, this means that any visitor can discover the protected area without being guided, the speed is limited. For example, in Kruger National Park, it is 50km/h on paved roads and 40 km/h on tracks. Sometimes it’s less and it’s indicated.
I’ve seen morons drive at over 60 or even 70 km/h. At these speeds, we don’t see any animals. You can even miss an elephant less than 10 metres away in a mopane forest. But it’s also dangerous for wildlife. The drivers very quickly ran over a beast.
To increase your chances of observation, I strongly advise you not to exceed 30 km/hour. In dense ecosystems, 20 km/h is even better.
I ONLY USE MY HORN IN CASE OF DANGER
I’ve seen cars honking their horns to warn of an animal coming or even worse to have fun intimidating a white rhino. No comment!
I DON’T GET OUT OF MY CAR
As strange as it may seem, every time I’ve done self-game-drive safaris, I’ve always seen people get out of their vehicles to better photograph an elephant. They probably think the elephant doesn’t charge to protect its young? I was even told that a French tourist came down from his 4×4 to better photograph a lion because his compact size did not allow him to have it big enough in the viewfinder. True! True!
Only go out on authorized areas such as picnic areas while remaining vigilant (without overdoing it). Personally, if the vehicle is in sight, I don’t close the car doors.
In the same way, don’t take a part of the body out of the window; you will become easy prey for a cat. Watch this video if you are not convinced.
I LIMIT OFF-ROAD DRIVING
In Self game-drive reserves and some national park regulations (such as the Serengeti), off-roading is prohibited. However, it is allowed in other reserves such as Masai Mara and in the private reserves of Greater Kruger National Park (Sabi Sand for example).
While off-road allows animals to be followed in their movements and thus observed closely, it seriously damages the ecosystem when it is done in a disproportionate way.
I SHARE MY OBSERVATIONS
I just watched lions devour a buffalo carcass. I leave the area and cross a vehicle at a crossroads. He was going down another path. I signaled to him to approach by car and informed the driver of the presence of the carcass. He told me he saw two lions on another track. An Italian family had given me the same information the day before at the end of the day. Let’s share our observations with each other in the field, in the evening at the camp. Everyone will be a winner.
I DON’T STAY AN HOUR ON AN OBSERVATION IF THERE ARE PEOPLE THERE
If there is one animal that attracts all safari enthusiasts, it is the leopard. In the Serengeti or in the Kruger, I saw traffic jams created to observe the cat. Some 4×4s would stay for hours to observe the animal obstructing any observation to other vehicles. I understand the joy that can come from meeting a leopard, he is by far my favorite feline, but I can’t imagine how we can prevent others from enjoying it too. Gentlemen (they are often men), make your observation, take your pictures and also let others observe the animal.
I REMAIN SILENT IN THE CACHES
That’s one thing that really irritates me. Being in a cache of observations and hearing people talking, laughing or yelling at each other while other naturalists try to observe a life scene. There is a little respect for other safari operators and wildlife.
Moreover, this is often very explicit. It is written when you enter “Silence”.
I LEAVE WITH ALL MY WASTE
How can you be in the middle of nature, drink a Coke in your car or eat a candy store and throw your paper out the window? Fortunately, this case is extremely rare.
More commonly, unfortunately, waste is found on picnic areas. If a bin is full, take your garbage with you.
I DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS
No one will feed a lion, I think, but I often see people feeding baboons and vervets in Africa or marmots in the mountains. Thank you for not doing so. This accustoms animals to humans and encourages them to keep coming back for food. Not a very wild attitude. Be careful not to have your soda bottle stolen as in this picture.
I RESPECT A SAFE DISTANCE FROM ANIMALS
There are some animals that love safari operators. But even in your vehicle a load of rhinos or elephants can be dramatic. When observing animals, you should also think about your safety. An elephant charge is faster than you think.