Nightmares...

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Dec 25th, 2005, 08:06 AM
  #1
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Nightmares...

We are leaving for South Africa in 10 days and I had all of these awful nightmares last night about being chased and attacked by lions. So I ask, when you are in the open range rover, why don't the lions and other animals attack the people. Aren't they close enough? Sorry I am freaking out!

Also, since we are staying in the Royal Malewane, do we have to worry about what we eat?
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Dec 25th, 2005, 09:18 AM
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Andrea,

The Royal Malewane is the absolute last place where I would worry about the food.

As far as the animals go, particularly lions, I have been in a doorless Land Rover and been close enough to reach out and touch a lion as it trotted by.

You just have to trust that your guides know how to read the animals behaivour. Most, if not all, animals will give warning signs before an attack.

Ultimately, the deadliest animal that you will meet while on safari is man, and the animals are well aware of this threat. Really, providing you listen to the guides instructions and don't do anything to put yourself at a higher risk, you will be fine.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and have a wonderful time in South Africa!
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Dec 25th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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When we were thinking of taking a safari, being attacked by the aminals was one of my first questions. If this happened with any frequency it wouldn't be able to be kept out of the news and safari's wouldn't be this popular. I guess this answer made me feel better, hope it helps.
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Dec 25th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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Best advice, follow instructions.
People who get attacked by animals are usually ones that ignore instructions. But you will be fine. You can get close without disturbing, and animals (mostly) give warnings.... like mock charges, ear flapping etc.

For some reason Lions see vehicles as things to be ignored.

Have a great trip and wonder!
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Dec 25th, 2005, 11:16 AM
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I've never heard nor read of lions jumping in a vehicle. One reason might be that the big cats use their sense of smell for hunting and I imagine the Range Rover smells like diesel fuel/oil/rubber...etc. Not too apppetizing! The guides will instruct you to stay seated so you don't break the shape of the vehicle. Try to keep in mind that thousands of travellers have gone before you. I have no doubt that you will have the trip of a lifetime!
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Dec 25th, 2005, 11:37 AM
  #6
sandi
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The last thing to worry about is the animals. As Rocco mentions, it's man that is often the problem out in the wild.

Guides will provide instructions and you just have to abide by these. During daylight hours, with few exceptions you can walk around the camp grounds without a guide; unless for some reason there is an animal around for which you'll be advise to stay indoors - this is unlikely at a camp such at Royal Malewane. More so this would be in the Delta (Botswana) or Zambia camps that aren't protected. So no worry where you'll be staying. Once dark has fallen, you will be escorted from your room/tent to dinner and be returned by guide at the conclusion.

With the exception of cheetah that often jump on the bonnet or roof of a vehicle (as we've experienced); they are oblivious to the vehicle and its passengers, rather the height allows them to scan the horizon for their next meal - read: another animal, not man.

Likewise, lions and even leopards ignore the vehicles as they've come to understand the vehicles won't hurt them, therefore, the passengers won't. Once you arrive at a sighting your instructions are to be quite, not make fast movements and do not stand up.

We've sat in the middle of a pride of lions (about 22 or 25) in total darkness as they finished the giraffe they brought down earlier that the day. They didn't give us more than a glance as we pulled into this area, then went about doing lion stuff.

Food - you shouldn't have any problem with your meals at RM. South Africa, in particular, is a first-world country with, sadly, third-world problems. That aside the food is as good as in Western countries (much of which we find on our own store shelves in the States) as is the water to drink, though not being familiar with local water it's best to stick with bottled water.

I, on the otherhand, iron stomach and all, drank the water throughout South Africa - not a single plastic bottled passed my lips. But this isn't for everyone.

Andrea, if I recall - food was of particular importance to you on this trip - rest assured you won't be disappointed.

Put the nightmares aside so you can travel well and have a great experience.


 
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Dec 25th, 2005, 01:00 PM
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as everyone else stated, just follow the guides instructions, don't stand up and don't get out of the vehicle. we came to within a foot of a lion munching on a zebra and he just looked up and then continued eating. the only animal that came too close for my comfort was 1 wild dog who came right up to my side of the vehicle, sniffed for a minute, looking up at us the whole time, then walked off..he had a sinister look on his face, kind of like a mean german shephard but was just curious i guess, and he was beautiful!
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Dec 25th, 2005, 02:39 PM
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Dr. Andrea,

To add to these other informative replies that are hopefully comforting...
The predators see the vehicle and its occupants as one unit, similar to a big rock, but a moving one that does not interfere with them. The gas smell masks our human smell. Unless you stand, your silhouette is not distiguishable as human.

I should mention that even when another occupant did stand up in the vehicle during a leopard sighting (due to a language barrier he did not understand to stay seated), the leopard's reaction was not to attack, but to flee. On walking safaris the few times I have encountered lions or leopard at a distance, the cat's reaction again demonstrated a fear of man because the animals fled or retreated.

In an even more extreme case I have asked bear guides in Alaska why the Alaskan Brown Bears (grizzlies) do not attack the people who are watching them graze, clam, or fish for salmon. And these are people on foot within 20 yards, or closer if the bear approaches. The anwer I received was that people were not the bears' "search image" for food. The bears are looking for fish, clams, grass, etc.

The same would apply, I believe, to the African animals. Ok, there was the exception of Timothy Treadwell in Alaska. But he would fall under the category of violating your guide's instructions--which the other posts emphasized should never be done--because he did stupid stuff. So if you adhere to your guide's advice you should have a very happy and most rewarding new year's adventure in South Africa.

Looking forward to reading about your experiences when you return.


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Dec 26th, 2005, 06:01 AM
  #9
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Wow! You guys gave some great advice. I really appreciate it. The excitement is definitely building over here even though we are not looking forward to the long plane ride.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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I think somehow the lions know that we're not worth the trouble for a meal.

One moment I won't soon forget was me sitting in the open sided van when we came to a halt because we had spotted a tree climbing lioness. I guess she was miffed because her cover was blown (she had probably been hoping to ambush any animal that roamed below), and she jumped down in disgust, and walked past our vehicle as she stalked away.

She probably walked within 6 feet of me. My heart still skips a beat and I get chills when I think about the moment our eyes made contact. I think we both understood who was in charge. Had I been alone, she could have taken me in an instant.

I think they have come to realise from interactions with humans (armed rangers, the masaai, etc)that people are not such easy game. I do not think they are fooled by the smell of gasoline fumes.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 09:08 AM
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We just had some lion encounters as well. In our tented camp at Swala at Tarangire in Tanzania we had lions walk through the camp at night, so close to our tent we could hear them breathing and the vibrations of their footsteps. At the Cratier, we also had honestly about 10 lions resting in the shade of our vehicle -- windows and top completely open. It was fine. Most animals are so conditioned to be afraid of man there is usually no problem. The few who have had encounters are usually at night when they were wandering where they shouldn't have been, and even then it's usually because they startled the animal.
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Dec 27th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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I have lost count of the number of times I could have stroked a Lion or Leopard as it ambled past the vehicle. (Hint, don't do this!)
But truly one of the most amazing experiences in life is to have a big male Lion stare right through you, it sends a chill down your spine.
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Dec 27th, 2005, 01:36 PM
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Femi & Napamatt hit it dead on. Getting that eye to eye contact from six to ten feet is like nothing else. All at once, a rush of excitement, fear, astonishment (that lion is looking at me) and major inferiority.
Animal Planet in the states has been running a documentary titled "Into the Lion's Den" which was shot at Thornybush. It does a good job of covering the distinction in safety of being in or out of the vehicle. People out of vehicles are much more interesting to lions.
I took a bush walk (with guide) of a couple of miles on our last trip. I know it's "safe" and ours was without incident, but, call me wimpy, that was more than I needed.

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Dec 27th, 2005, 02:43 PM
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Lions are unpredictable as ever. They will surprise you at times. Once in an enclosed van in the Serengeti, a lion charged and hit the van. Seems he was miffed about the guy next to me chattering on and yelling regarding the kings mating behavior. He was Mexican, and the guide spoke English. I rationalize this by saying there was a communication problem till the lion expressed himself. Another time, in Mana Pools, we were observing a herd of buffalo, and they were observing us while driving in high grass. At least we thought so till an unnoticed male lion charged the open landrover, stopping with its huge bloody head hovering a second over the front of the bonnet. It seems he and his 2 brothers had dropped a buffalo a few minutes before and we were driving right on top of them.They weren't pleased with us interrupting their dining. 'sh't' came out in 3 languages. Another time in Mana Pools-I've have alot of interesting memories here- I was disturbed after going to bed in the rooftop tent that unfolds over the bonnet(hood)of my landrover. We went for a game drive that night and immediately turned in after that. A pride of lions decided we should share our fire, with one lioness that jumped up on the warm bonnet. I had unzipped the tent and looked around, spotted 1st the lions near the fire(and the landy) and then noticed the one directly underneath me, intently staring back. Did not sleep well that night. In Moremi at Xakanaxca, had done the afternoon game drive, made dinner over the fire-the fillet was particularily good, cleaned up and was sitting next to the fire with a cold beer. All of a sudden a herd of buffalo came charging out of the swamp through the camp site. Before I could get out of my chair, a lioness sprinted out of nowhere and jumped the closest buffalo. Then the rest of the pride moved in to finish it off. We all manuevered to the rooftents. For the next few hours, it was noise you could not believe, all within 20-30 feet of us. Then the hyenas came. One guy in a ground tent had a lion leaning on him in the middle of the night. He couldn't sleep or move. The people in the campsite next to us, on the otherside of the lions lost everything that wasn't tied down, because they never even had a chance to start in on their dinner.
These are just a few of the encounters I've had. I don't call it luck. As long as I haven't done something stupid to alert the cat behavior, like running for instance. It seems we aren't on the menu normally.

And I am always planning the next safari before the last one is finished.
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Dec 27th, 2005, 04:18 PM
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Those are not the kind of experiences one should expect at Royal Malewane.

Luangwa - wow!
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Dec 27th, 2005, 04:31 PM
  #16
sandi
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Another WOW!

Amazing, but not, I think, what Dr. Andrea wanted to hear! Our responses were suppose to reassure her. I can just see the nightmares starting again!

For those of us not fortunate enough to have experienced so much adrenalin, do tell more in another thread, please!
 
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Dec 27th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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Just pointing out that lions have the opportunity and they just don't attack normally unless you do something stupid. Even then, with humans on foot and vehicles it is usually something like a mock charge-warning us to back off, we're intruding. I have seen lions walk through campsites, totally aware of our presence. Like they were on a inspection tour of their territory. Then mark a tent before leaving. Its kind of like the dog next door making the rounds. He's staked his territory and makes his regular rounds to my irritation. Thinking of putting down red pepper.
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Dec 27th, 2005, 08:46 PM
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Wow again! I just read all of the new replies. Today I got my flu shot, malaria pills, and Hep A shot. I already had tetanus, hep B, and TB. We don't have that much time thinking about the trip given that our bathroom is completely gutted and in the process of being renovated by workmen who seem to be taking forever. I am just hoping that they get a good amount done before we leave. But now I am rambling.
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Dec 28th, 2005, 05:37 AM
  #19
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I have had two interesting Lion encounters at Kwando Lagoon over the last two years.
In 2004 we were returning to Camp after having watched lions hunt Buffalo for several hours without succes. On the way back we had a flat tyre. The guide decided to change the tyre on the spot. Before he got out of the vehicle we spotted the male Lion from the pride lying down 30 yards awas from the vehicle. The females were lying 40 yards away on the other side of the vehicle. The tracker kept the spotlight on the male and I had my pocket flashlight on the females while the guide got out and changed the tyre.
Eventhough the lions were extremely hungry (they had not made a kill for several days) they did not even move. They just watched with interest as the guide did a quick job of changing the tyre!
This year we tracked two males and two females for several hours. The guide and tracker on foot and me following in the vehicle. The lions would not let us get close until the tracker and guide got back in the vehicle. Even then they were quite wary about our vehicle and would not let us get really close. We had called in another vehicle for the sighting. As they arrived we left and later on they told us that as soon as we left the Lions started relaxing and allowed them to get really close!
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