Often the excitement of sightings causes rules and regulations of the road, and park, to fall by the wayside. However, good game viewing practice is essential in our national parks, not just out of respect for others but, also for your own safety.
- Always stop your vehicle on the side of the road. The lane furthest away from the animal must always be open to avoid obstruction. This way, anybody can still pass without invading your photos.
- Never park diagonally in the road and keep to the speed limit. Leaving the road is not permitted because it will cause tremendous damage to the fauna and flora. When crossing single-lane bridges, avoid stopping for too long. This prevents other vehicles from crossing. Always remain in your vehicle unless you are in a designated area where the contrary is indicated.
- Be aware of the park rules. It is also essential to know some basic rules for safe viewing, particularly when elephant are involved. Breeding herds with calves and bulls in must can be particularly dangerous. Keeping a safe distance is essential. You can identify a must bull by the dark secretion from the temporal glands situated between the ear and eyes. They often also leave a trail of urine behind.
- Game viewing does not stop when you enter the rest camp. A number of smaller species can be spotted in and around the buildings and gardens. It is very important to wear shoes and use a torch to improve visibility at night. You never know which critter may be scurrying around.
- It does not matter how innocent it may seem – never feed any animal. Primates for example, now associate humans with easy food, and it has changed some of their behaviour. They can become aggressive towards humans, which will effectively result in their having to be put down.
Whether you are a first-time or regular visitor to our parks, caution is the best way to ensure your safety. Animals have territories and when we enter parks, we visit their homes. Respect and common sense are the best policies for safe game viewing.
Content courtesy of SANParks Times