Wild Animals: How do I stay at the top of the food chain? Seriously.
With no particular continents in mind, but with plans for future trips to Siberia and then Africa (or the other way round....), I find myself wondering about this.
Whenever I go on a trip, long or short, the first couple of nights in the tent are nver restful: I am so aware of all the noises and sensations in the wilds around me that i cannot switch off. This abates with time, and I then relax and I sleep fine as the trip continues.
HOwever, I am not sure that I will find it as easy to switch off when camping in Siberia where bears out-populate humans and are not put off, unlike mosquitoes, by a "no-see-em" mesh.
Then there is sub-saharan Africa that I long to see. Of course, the list of animals capable and willing to eat a tourist is somewhat longer.
Yes, I am being a bit flippant in my approach but it is a serious question: I have got common sense, but I do not have loads of bush know-how.
So, what are the tips for staying intact and undigested?
How best to avoid attracting the attention of the local fauna and how best to address it if they do take an interest?
So far, I am thinking some sort of highly unpleasant spray (by that I mean an artifical chemically smell, rather than a stink that may even attracat animals) and perhaps an air-horn as used during football matches...
On Ultimate Survivor he recommended that you pee at intervals in a circle around your tent about fifty ft away, must be male pee not female. This lets any interested animals know that you have claimed this territory, but they might be a bit pissed off if they were there first. Apparently this is what some African bush men do around there camp to deter wild animals.
I don't know about bears but this is what I've experienced camping in sub Saharan Africa.
Watch where you camp, avoid obvious Game trails.
Most things will leave you alone once you are zipped in your tent, but don't leave it unzipped how ever hot it is.
Once it gets dark most predators have an enormous advantage over you, stay in the camp firelight, even for a wee, well as per that last post you'll want it near the campsite.
Don't keep your food in your tent if you can help it.
Size matters a lot to things like Hyenas, if you cook standing up they are less likely to come and snatch your food, sounds stupid but true.
Don't put your hands where you can't see them (hollow trees, rocky crevices etc).
Carrying a compression bandage is worth it in case of snakebites.
Give Elephants time and space, sounds obvious but I nearly came to grief having thought they had all crossed the trail, but missed a baby one hidden by the long grass - Mum wasn't happy at all.
Don't get put off by any scare stories, it's fantastic not being top of the food chain if you respect the rules.
In general, the fear of bears is a bit overdone. Yes, you should use common sense and follow the rules for camping in bear country (ie. no food or other items that might attract a bear in your tent, throw those items, including your pots and pans that you cook with, into a bag and run it up a distant tree, etc. . However, in reality you are not in their food chain, the vast majority of bear attacks occur when a person startles a bear, or encounters a mother bear in the wood with her cub. If you are going to be tramping around in the woods, then additional preventative things like bear bells, etc. all help to let the bear know well in advance of your arrival. If they know you are there, they will avoid you.
After the basics of prevention, then out of curiosity you should be aware of what to do in an attack. ie. getting away if possible, bear spray as the first line of defense and that doesn't work you should be aware of the differences between a black and a brown because that would determine whether you should fight or play dead.
If you follow a few general rules, the odds of you getting attacked by a bear are about one in a million. It is way more dangerous to ride your bike in any big city. Keep in mind the woods in many places are swarming with hikers, bikers, and tourists in general and most of the tourists have a lot less travel awareness than you, and somehow these people manage to survive. Mainly because the bears aren't interested in them in the least.
"the odds of you getting attacked by a bear are about one in a million. It is way more dangerous to ride your bike in any big city."
But what are the odds for a bear riding a motorbike in a city?
Travel with someone you hate and is stupid enough to get out of the tent when you say "whats that noise?"
LOL. You remind me of this argentine mate with whom i travelled across Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. The only time we needed to pitch the tent entering Brazil on a 250 km slippery trail, we camped at the entrance of a farmhouse...he woke me up at 4 am, terrified, willing to move in the dark. He was certain he heard a...Tiger!!
Seriously, as a motorcycling traveller, you naturally attract sympathy by local populations. Why then choosing the disconfort of camping?
Hi Warthog et al
IMHO, if you are in a closed tent in Africa it is highly unlikely that any animal would attack you, as long as you do not have any food inside.
Know of a young Belgian guy who was sleeping in a tiny one man tent/bivvy type bag, in one of the Africa game parks, he had eaten meat and gone straight to bed, a couple of hours later friends of mine who were sleeping close by in their Land Cruiser, heard screaming. They pointed a torch to see the guy being attacked thru the tent by a Hyena, luckily my friend knew that Hyena's do not like metallic sound and gabbed a spade and frying pan and bang them together - frantically!
The Hyena broke off and backed away - luckily the lad only had a few cut and scratches.
You might also have read that a young Brit was dragged from a tent, and subsequently died, as few years back in southern Africa - he had left his tent open, despite warnings to the contrary.
Overall if in a tent in Africa you are fairly safe from wild animals on the ground or in a roof tent. Do not venture away from your tent in the dark - have a torch and pref a head torch to hand, but even then stay close to the tent. Beware that most animals will not attack if you are around a decent sized camp fire, but will often hang around the shadows especially if they smell food. Hyena's again will often be close at hand, so do NOT venture off to go to the loo. Personal experience of the above on a number of occassions - as mentioned above stand tall and make noise if a predator appears - do NOT turn your back and/or run!
As mentioned above, give Elephants time and space, they can be amazingly gentle - have seen them walk through crowded campsites on numerous occassions, and they have carefully stepped over guylines and washlines and generally taken care to avoid touhing/knocking or damaging things. But do not underestimate the speed at which these huge beasts can run and react. They will mockattack if you upset them, this can and does lead to real attacks - the consequences are frightening and horrific.
Safari guide I know waited for a small herd/family of Elephants to pass on a track in a wooded National park, he then drove on just as a dawdling baby erupted from the bush - the baby trumpeted, whereupon the mother charged. My friend tried to reverse away from the Ele but she attacked their Land Rover 110 open top game viewer. He and his female companion had to jump out and hide behind some trees as the Ele trampled the Land ROver into the mud - it was a complete write off!
They were extremely fortunate to survive the incident, my friend fired 2 warniing shots and eventually the Female Elephant trotted off to join her infant anf family group - several other adults and juveniles had advanced to within 30 metres and my friend was preparing himself for the worst if they attacked him and/or his companion.
Be sensible and use plenty of common sense - most of all enjoy!!!
A group of us were camping on Nyika Plateau in Malawi. First time there, didn't know there were hyenas around. I slept in the vehicle, two others out in the open by the camp fire.
When we woke up the next morning one lad couldn't find his shorts or sandals he'd been using as a pillow. After a search we found the buckle of his leather belt and the rubber soles of the sandals. Everything else seemed to have been chewed away.
The lad said he'd felt nothing other than having a bad dream involving his girlfriend having halitosis.
So, are roof tents giving more protection than a ground tent, I would think so, but I have never tented.
This thread is awesome. I've had similar concerns now I travel on a bike into more remote places. In Azerbaijan we wondered what to do when encountering a pack of wolves around our camp. Apparently making youself as big as possible and yelling and just making a ruckus is what I read somewhere I think.
I've got a few South African mates, and work with a former South African ranger/ wildlife manager and they have some interesting stories about wildlife. My mates reckon they have Hyena's in their dunnies all the time, but they don't seem to have a whole lot of respect for them saying they're stupid and easily scared. The ranger isn't scared of wild lions at all saying they don't see humans as food. He's scared of lions who have been in contact with humans in the past as they don't respect humans.
Not sure what to believe.
So camping in Africa should always include the outer tent being put up than. That sucks
When you'll be in a game area you will know how to act.
Salties in Australia and grizzlies in North Canada are the only species recommended to attack unprovoked.
During daylight you can even walk through an East African game park though it's populated like a zoo. The games will show you the proper distance to keep by lifting their heads but lyons. So, keep 50m distance to any bush. Most accidents happens with buffalos, as they do not give proper warning. In late afternoon walking around is not as appropriate as pretators are hunting.
Snakes are not a problem and you rarely will see one. But in late afternoon they wind up in trees to catch sleep, so they can't flee, and being in the underwood then you easily can unhook one accidentally.
Watch your hands, check your boots before entering, dont camp close to any track or salty billabong, keep no food in your tent, don't walk off roads at night, and if a grizzly shows up play dead ;-)
"The ranger isn't scared of wild lions at all saying they don't see humans as food. He's scared of lions who have been in contact with humans in the past as they don't respect humans."
How do you know which are which? Do you have to ask them?
Isn't it hippos that kill more people than anything else?
(Pic not taken in NP)
I totally agree that most animals (except crocs) in Africa don’t normally eat people but a lot of the animals in the NPs have changed their normal behavior and it’s much harder to understand them. In Botzwana I have tracked lions by foot (without weapons), I would never have done it in a regular NP.
The problem with hippos are that you provoke them without realizing it, beside mosquitoes they kill most people in Africa.
Be careful when you are beside rivers and always look for sign after hippos. Don’t stay between the hippos and the river.
In my experience hippos (like other animals) don’t care about tents, but other people say this is not true. So I guess you should be careful when camping by the river.
The elephant are okay, as long as you don’t stress them.
If you travel alone you have to run faster then the lion, if you travel with a group you only have to run faster then one of your friends.
This might help -
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