wise wildlife watching
Travel tips aren’t only about where to go and what to buy – sometimes the best advice is how to behave. You can check Intrepid’s tips on how to be be a responsible traveller and here are ways to help you enjoy harmonious wildlife viewing in Africa…
Respect the ‘personal space’ of the wildlife, this is their habitat. If a visitor/vehicle causes an animal to alter its behaviour, then the visitor has invaded its space and influenced its normal behaviour. Observe nature as it occurs naturally and not as to how it responds to your presence there.
Speak quietly – do not call out, whistle or in other ways try and attract the attention of animals. Noise disturbs them and may antagonise fellow visitors.
Beware of the animals, they are wild and can be unpredictable. Do not get too close. Remember that if an animal charges you it is usually your fault for not having read the animal correctly and for not allowing the animal sufficient space.
Don’t feed animals or birds. Habituating them to humans and to human food upsets their natural diet, can shorten their life and cause trouble for other people later on by making the animals unnaturally aggressive.
Do not touch wild animals, as you can unwittingly pass on diseases, as well as place yourself at risk.
Stay in your vehicle at all times, except at designated picnic, walking or camping areas.
Leave no litter, including food scraps and cigarette butts.
Never leave fires unattended or discard burning objects, including cigarette butts. Discarded butts can result in uncontrolled fires which devastate and destroy animals and bush land.
When night viewing, minimise usage of a flashlight and never shine your light into an animals eyes. Do not illuminate prey as this gives the predator an unfair advantage.
You may be offered options to visit wild animals that have been habituated or animal orphanages. Ask your group leader or the attraction if any of the animals kept have been taken from the wild, as this places additional pressure on wild species. Ask if there is an active education programme at the attraction, as responsible attractions provide this. Don’t give your business to exploitive operators.
* photo by Emma Jacobs – Intrepid Photography Competition