This week Alan looks at some of the human-wildlife incidents that happen when visitors to parks get too close to the animals. Or is it just a case of wrong spot, wrong time?

In Kruger National Park, recently, an elephant had a go at a car. Two male elephants were having a stoush, when one abruptly turned to a car load of German tourists who had crept too close. Whoops! The elephant smashed a window with its trunk. Have a feeling they won’t be covered by their insurance policy…

I wrote an earlier blog giving consideration to how close you should get to the animals. Well, when it’s two large bull elephants in a challenge, I’d recommend keeping your distance…it’ isn’t rocket science.

Impala’s innovative escape technique

Of a more light hearted affair, an impala…those small antelope you see in large numbers around parks like Kruger…leapt into a tourist’s car after being chased by a couple of cheetah! Perhaps it was dropping in to see what all the fuss is about. Why do so many of those funny shaped metal things crawl through the park every day?

Fortunately, it didn’t land on anyone. It obviously had its eye on the rear passenger seat which was vacant. The impala was heard to say ‘…away James’ to the driver...ok, so I made that bit up. But the rest is true! The passengers managed to open the door and release the confused animal. As an escape tactic it worked a treat – the impala bound off into the bushes, while the cheetahs looked forlornly at their escaping prey. The chase abandoned due to unusual and effective escape techniques from the prey.

I wonder if it will catch on? There could be antelope leaping at cracks in car windows all over southern Africa pretty soon. Advice. Wind up your windows inside wildlife parks – they should be wound up anyway.

And of course…baboons

And me? Well, I’ve been in a wildlife park in a bakkie (enclosed pickup) with friends and had three baboons, open the rear door, which should have been locked! Quite brazenly they swung into the back of the car. There was no connecting door into the cabin where we were. But there was a window and we laughed our behinds off watching them play quite comically together. I think they were excited to have found a new playground!

Keep your distance, have fun, and remember that the wildlife is unpredictable. You really are out in the wild here – on the animals’ turf and terms.

By Alan Murphy
Australia AU

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

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