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Safari Urban Legends - The Lizard in the Tent and Other Bush Tails...

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Aug 3rd, 2005, 02:42 AM
  #1
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Safari Urban Legends - The Lizard in the Tent and Other Bush Tails...

Hello,

I started this thread after several mentions of the 'lizard in the tent' story on the 'Safari Peeves' thread -- I was curious about what other 'safari urban legends' might be floating around.

For those who aren't familiar with the Lizard in the Tent story, here is the version I heard whilst in Botswana:

A middle-aged woman travelling alone came to stay at a certain luxury tented camp in Botswana. This was her first time in the bush and she was rather nervous, though trying to put a good face on it. After checking in and going to her room, she came back and told the camp manager that there was a lizard in her tent, and asked him to come and remove it. He explained that small, harmless animals are often found in tents, and that it would doubtless leave on its own if left alone. The woman went back to her tent, but reappeared shortly thereafter, saying that the lizard was still there. The camp manager re-stated that it was harmless, and pointed out that she might be considered lucky as lizards eat insects so it would be keeping her tent bug-free. Reassured, she went back to her tent to take a siesta before the afternoon game drive, but soon returned once more -- she apologised for bothering the manager again, but the lizard was making so much noise she wasn't able to get to sleep. The manager sighed, but agreed to accompany her back to her tent -- where he was mortified to find a 4-5 foot monitor lizard thrashing around in its efforts to escape.

Other people have reported versions of this story, often involving either a lady travelling alone or a Japanese couple.

Another 'safari urban legend' I have heard multiple times is The Tale of the Taiwanese Tourist, which is as follows:

A Taiwanese family was thoroughly enjoying its first game drive in Africa. Their only complaint was that the guide wouldn't get close enough to the animals for better photographs. So when they came upon a pride of lions enjoying an afternoon siesta, the father decided to take matters into his own hands. Ignoring the guide's orders to stay put, he climbed out of the vehicle and knelt down next to the lions to provide his family with the ultimate photo opportunity. The lions saw this more as a culinary opportunity, and he was promptly killed and eaten at leisure.

Some versions of this story have the father rearranging the cubs for a better photo (with the expected result as the lioness takes exception to his aesthetics). For some reason the tourists in this story are always Asian (Japanese, Taiwanese, or Chinese).

Anyone else have a story?

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 04:26 AM
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Have heard both of those...

No really amusing ones I can think of - I tend to laugh at the time but quickly forget. I'm awful at remembering jokes too.

I do remember an incident that amused me somewhat - on one of our safaris at a water camp we paused on a small island for a morning coffee break and one of the mokoro polers slipped a pair of pliers from his belt and began to show us how his people created very durable rope from one of the plants growing abundantly on the island.

One of our fellow guests got all glazy-eyed and asked if she could first take a picture of him, with the pliers prominently shown and then if she could hold them. Her husband sheepishly explained that she had a bit of a thing for pliers and indeed collected them avidly.

This caused us quite a giggle and we teased her over the next couple of days. We also met them a few days later at another camp and teased her some more.

But who am I to talk, as I collect eggcups, which might be seen as equally strange. I don't get as excited as this lady when I see them though!

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Aug 3rd, 2005, 04:50 AM
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At Chiefs and Stanleys in Botswana
they have hot water bottles covered with fake Leopard skin in the beds at night (winter time).
There have been different stories about guests getting back to their tent at night getting into bed and hitting the hot water bottle with their feet. The guests would then either be shocked and scream or in one version the man actually attacked "the Beast" with an umbrella until it punctured!!
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 06:20 AM
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I've heard several incredible stories about stupid people, but since they are gory and possibly true, perhaps I shouldn't repeat? We might want to split this thread into two, one to cover the harmless and amusing (monitor lizard, hot water bottle--btw, those are both very funny) and the bloodier ones about stupid behavior. This might actually serve a purpose in deterring truly stupid behavior (like the tourist with lions story).
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:14 AM
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Sorry, spelled your name wrong...Good idea tashak!
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:27 AM
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Stupid Behavior Dept:
Lodge in Zambia, Kafue NP, new guests arrive. One of the ladies seems to be notably exhausted and is looking for a refreshment - and has nothing better to do as jumping in the Lufupa River for a swim. After all the staff members are running to the river, shouting and waving, she returns to the bank. Quote of the day: "Crocs? What's that? Never heard about it."

Mitch
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:06 AM
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There was the one about the guy who had to go jogging while in Sabi Sand, eventually ranger and tracker drive the vehicle ahead of the guy. Every so often they look back to check on him, then they notice he seems to be getting faster, so they speed up a little, and so does he, very impressed with his athletic prowess they go a little faster, never realizing the reason for his speed.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:36 AM
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Napamatt,

I couldn't believe it when I logged into Robin Pope Safaris website this past Monday for their weekly "It's Monday" weekly update. There are photos of one of their guests, who is in training for a triatholon, running a minimarathon with one of the (unarmed) guides.

http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/itsm...itsmonday.html

This is pretty stupid, if you ask me, and not the thing that should be publicized by RPS.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:49 AM
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Rocco,

They are running AROUND the camp - you can even see some camp structures on the right side of the picture.

This isn't more dangerous than walking from the bar to the dining area.

Mitch
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:56 AM
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Mitch,

I wouldn't dare run around the camp. I have seen plenty of hyenas and even a leopard right from camp in South Luangwa. There is no way that this is safe with all of the wildlife all around.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:07 PM
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There is the story about the mother and son travelling in Botswana. Kid sneaks some dinner back into their tent. After Mom is asleep, he leaves the tent, apparently to put the food outside for the animals. Mom wakes up, sees son is missing, tent not zipped, so goes outside to look for him. This one does not have a happy ending. Moral of the story: stay in your tent at night.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:21 PM
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Rocco,

I've stayed at a research camp in the Delta, where we had hyaenas around the kitchen and sleeping tents each night. You had to scare them away to enter your tent. And in the evening, when we had our braai in front of the camp, you knew that they were five metres behind you in the dark, waiting for some scrap. All this without guides/guards and weapons.

As you can see, I've survived this. And I will certainly do it again and will feel safe.

There aren't man-eaters behind each corner of the bush!

Mitch
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:26 PM
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tashak,

Are you talking about this incident in 2000, an US family? As far as I know they never knew exactly how this happened.

Mitch
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:27 PM
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PS: the moral is: stay in your tent at night and KEEP IT CLOSED.
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:29 PM
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Classic from this year. Mala Mala is quite big and so can lull you into a false sense of security, but I was surprsied to learn from a young female guest (about 20) that she had gone down to the pool for a walk after dinner! I guess she thought the ranger escorting her back to her room after dinner was just for politeness.
Her previous experience had been a seven night safari just outside Johannesburg (you can guess what kind - where presumably the camp was fenced, or maybe I am being charitable).
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:12 PM
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Regarding joggers -- in, around or away from camps -- it all reminds of that strange thread a month or so ago about the woman who went for a "bush run" and ended up being gored by an elephant. This is no urban legend -- she survided and now has an anti-conservation website and cause (its all in a thread here somewhere) -- but it shows that there is usually a kernel of truth of these types of stories. And that when it comes to human stupidity and hubris -- ultimately, you can't make this stuff up!
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:29 PM
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napamatt,

I'm not quite sure if this situation was so dangerous since I don't know the area. The basic rule is: always keep your eyes and ears open, and act with common sense. There is always a remaining risk, even during daytime. Actually, the only time I met lions in camp was during daytime!

In my opinion safety measures in camp (like escorts at night) do not mainly depend on the riskiness of the area but the client structure of the camp. I've been in unfenced camps (in Botswana and Tanzania, even upmarket) where you could roam freely around - even at night - and these camps were in lion territory (you could see the tracks in camp next morning). These camps also had nearby camp sites for 4x4 travellers or were visited by such people, and this might be the main reason: camp management expects that people know what they are doing, even foreign tourists. In contrast there are camps where your movements in camp are completely restricted, even during daytime. I don't think that these camps are necessarily more unsecure than those above, it has more something to do with insurance against the remaining risk - some clients don't take the responsibility of their actions and tend, in consequence of an 'incident', to ruin the whole company.

Mitch
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:44 PM
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Agreed. Most camps we visit require escorts at night, but you are free during the day. Well getting on the wrong side of a bushbuck or Nyala in daytime is likely to be pretty nasty if not downright fatal so you certainly need to be sensible. I for myself don't go wandering around at night, certainly not to the parts of the camp furthest from activity.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 02:19 PM
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Bwanamitch, the incident happened either in 2000 or 2001, I'm not sure. I had heard a bit of this story before, so I asked a guide explicitly about it. (Away from nervous ears of course.) Rather quietly, he told us that this was the story pieced together from various bits of evidence. Obviously no one saw the whole drama. But from his serious demeanor and the details about personality and behavior, it was pretty clear that if not the official story, this is what the local guides believed. I heard this version from 2 different guides at different camps, and it was consistent.

Of course in situations like this, it is always difficult to put the pieces together, especially if there is any liability involved .
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 03:14 PM
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Is this the one?


AUGUST 2000 AFRICA HEADLINES

Friday, August 11, 2000 - Web posted at 11:47:43 GMT

Hyenas kills US boy (11) on safari


GABARONE - An 11-year-old American boy was attacked and killed last month by a hyena while he was sleeping in a tent during a safari in Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve, a tour operator has told a local news agency.

Reports yesterday named the boy as Mark Garrat Shea, from Baltimore.

Bridget Hedges, a spokesperson for Botswana tour operator Capricorn Safaris, said the attack occurred on July 19, while the boy was sleeping.

The tent flaps had apparently not been secured.

The boy's mother is still in northern Botswana "trying to come to terms with what has happened," Hedges said.

The boy and his mother had been on safari in Zimbabwe and Botswana for two-and-a-half weeks before the incident.

The US Embassy in Gaborone declined to comment.
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