Sunday, July 18, 2010

What to do if you're attacked by a wild animal

On our bush walks in Kruger National Park, our guides, who carried loaded rifles they jokingly referred to as "walking sticks," advised us not to run if an animal charged toward us. That's right, we were not to run from an angry lion, leopard or hippo coming right at us.

"If you run, the animal will chase you, because animals instinctively go after something that runs," said Vusi, our guide for a river walk at Olifants Camp. "If you run, we will not be able to protect you."

Instead, the guide said, we should hide behind a bush or drop to the ground, depending on his instructions.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we never had to test this advice, because on our walks, we never came face to face with any large animals. As we walked along, I did wonder to myself whether I would be able to control my impulse to run, even while knowing I could never outrun one of the above-mentioned animals. But it never came to that.

On one walk, a wary wildebeest tracked us from a good distance. We also observed elephants feeding maybe 100 yards away. We did get very close to hippos submerged to their eyeballs in a river, and had a nervous staring contest with them. I say nervous, because they were all looking at us, and we were certainly watching them, especially after Vusi told us hippos will sometimes charge from the water.

Actually, the best glimpse we got of the big cats - lion, leopard and cheetah - came during a wildlife film shown one evening at Skukuza Camp. (We did get a very good view of a male lion during a sunset wildlife drive.)

We have now left Kruger and are staying in Graskop, a town in the Drakensburg Mountain escarpment. For those in the San Diego County area, think Julian. Graskop is a mix of the rustic and touristic, with lots of cozy lodges and bed and breakfasts, and plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops.

This morning, we drove north on Route 532 to God's Window, a ridge with splendid views of the pine-covered hills rolling away in the distance, and the Sabie River winding far below. We also visited natural rock formations called Bourke's Luck Potholes, named for the man who found gold there in the 1800s. We also drove up along the Blyde River Canyon, with has magnificent rock formations hewn over the millenia from rust- and copper-colored rock.

Before I sign off, a very happy 92nd birthday to Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president after years of the oppression of apartheid. While not an official public holiday (although it may become one) today, Sunday, July 18th, is a day when South Africans are encouraged to spend 67 minutes doing public service, in honor of the years that Mandela spent trying to better his country.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, all, Read and enjoyed latest blog; thanks for update. Kruger sounds exciting: glad you weren't attacked by any wild animals. Enjoy your last few days. Miss you!!! Love, Aunt Fran xoxo