In Africa, What to do when….

As a lodge owner we are inundated with a million questions from keen tourists who are terrified of wild animals and other sticky situations.

In all fairness most of them are decent questions but others are either amusing or impossible and I have to fight the urge to just make something up.

But in response I have decided to write up some of the more serious ones with recommendations on what I would do when faced with disaster.

1/ You are in a boat in a Lightning storm…

Not the smartest place to be but if unavoidable..

If you are out on the water and skies are threatening, get back to land and find a safe building or safe vehicle.

Boats with cabins offer a safer, but not perfect, environment.  If you are inside the cabin, stay away from metal and all electrical components. STAY OFF THE RADIO UNLESS IT IS AN EMERGENCY!

If you are caught in a thunderstorm on a small boat, drop anchor and get as low as possible. Remember to stay inside the cabin and away from any metal surfaces and don’t stand in pooling water.

3/ An Elephant charges…

DO NOT RUN!

Elephants are well known for charging at humans, especially when they enter onto their breeding grounds or a male is in musk (secretions from the facial glands which is visible). The animals are surprisingly fast and persistent.

The best way to avoid them is to climb a substantial tree, one big enough that they will not be able to pull down with their trunks and then call for help.

There was a man in India who claimed he was stuck up a tree for over 20 hours while the elephant tried to pull down the tree he was in!

All in all, the best advice is not to approach elephants unless you are in the company of an experienced elephant guide.
2/ You come face to face with a big scary looking Crocodile….

 

Crocodiles are typically stalkers and don’t just rush you in order to bite you, so you should always be aware of your surroundings before entering water and look out. Never swim in shallow murky muddy waters and avoid thick vegetation where they could be hiding.

Run Away! If you see one, simply get out of the water as fast as you can or if on shore just run away.

Fight back if you’re attacked:

While the normal behavior of crocodilians is to bite a potential meal (you) and hold on until forcibly removed, they will sometimes (particularly when defending young or territory) deliver a single, quick defensive bite and then immediately let go. If this occurs, just try to get away from the animal as quickly as possible. In predatory attacks, however, as well as in some defensive attacks, the animal doesn’t let go and will often try to drag a person into the water or underwater. Crocodilians can stay underwater for much longer than humans can, so the only hope of survival if you’re attacked in this manner is to fight back and get away. Simply struggling and trying to pull free is usually futile and may induce the animal to go into an underwater death roll, during which an arm or leg stuck in the crocodile’s mouth will likely be ripped off. A purposeful, deliberate attack on the animal is therefore a better option.

  • Go for the eyes. The most vulnerable part of a crocodile’s body is its eyes. Try to hit or poke the eyes with whatever you have handy: an oar, a stick, or a knife. Even your hands can be effective weapons if you can hit the animal’s eyes.
  • Go for the nostrils or ears. While not as sensitive as the eyes, the nostrils and ears can be effectively attacked. A hard blow or a cut to either of these areas may cause the animal to release you. Many people have been saved from a crocodile’s jaws when other people have hit the animal’s snout with a pole or club.
  • Go for the palatal valve. Crocodilians have a flap of tissue behind the tongue that covers their throats when they submerge in water. This flap prevents water from flowing into their throats and hence prevents the crocodile from drowning when its mouth is open. If your arm or leg is stuck in a crocodile’s mouth, you may be able to pry this valve down. Water will then flow into the crocodile’s throat, and animal will most likely let you go. Hard strikes to this valve may also cause the animal to release you.

4/ You are bitten by a snake…

Firstly, keep your movements down to a minimum and stay calm.

  • Call for help.
  • Wrap the whole limb with a crepe bandage starting from closest to the body working out to the end of the limb.
  • Immobilize the limb by splinting it.
  • Do NOT raise the limb.
  • If possible, look at the snake to identify it without putting yourself in danger.
  • Evacuate to hospital.

Despite what others say.. DO NOT cut the wound or try and suck out the venom or apply a tourniquet.

 

5/ When your electricity goes out…

Remove the snake.

Our lodge electricity was just out for over 3 days and we had a team of technician’s ready to pull down lines and change over whole transformer units, then we noticed something up there… A snake was stuck in the transformer causing the electricity to arc between phases and short!

This is a completely useless tip but I found it interesting enough to add in.

I hope you can find these tips helpful in a time of need.

Just always remember to keep a good look out of animals and observe the weather prior to your tour and have fun.

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