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Taking a self-safari drive? Here are the do's & don'ts

A Bull elephants enjoying his snack. Picture: Supplied

A Bull elephants enjoying his snack. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 19, 2022

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Wildlife seekers are still reeling from shock following the recent incident at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, where an elephant flipped over an SUV with the family still inside.

Luckily, no passengers were severely injured, and the elephant remains unharmed.

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To make your sightings much safer and more enjoyable, iSimangaliso Wetland Park officials offered the following tips when viewing the elephants and other wildlife.

Do’s

* Slow down as soon as you see an animal.

* Switch off the engine, sit quietly, and enjoy the sighting.

* Keep an eye on both sides and the rear of the vehicle for approaching elephants or other animals.

* Make sure you can easily drive away from the sighting.

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* Allow the elephants/other animals a clear path away from the area.

* Give the animals space to move off the road before driving past them.

* Retreat slowly if the elephants/other animals are showing any signs of unease or mild threat.

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* Drive away slowly and quietly if they continue to show any threatening behaviour.

* Give a musth bull (evident by dark, oily secretions on either side of the head) lots of space (more than 50m); their testosterone levels make them short-tempered.

* Reverse if a musth bull is in front of you, don’t drive past or let him walk towards you.

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* If any elephant/other animal displays aggressive behaviour such as rushing towards a vehicle, tusking the ground, throwing sand/ branches at you or trumpeting loudly) always play it safe and retreat.

*Always keep a safe distance of 50-70 metres between your vehicle and the animal.

Don’t

* Don’t rush up to the elephants/other animals.

* Don’t drive closer than 50 metres to the nearest elephant.

* Don’t park your car over any elephant footpaths leading off from the road.

* Don’t box the elephants/other animals in when other vehicles are present.

* Never cut off or block elephants/other animals from the direction they are walking.

* Never drive or park between members of the elephant herd.

* Never drive for extended periods when elephants are walking along the road.

* Never rev the engine when elephants/ other animals are present.

* Never try to push elephants/ other animals off the road.

* Never speed past elephants or drive faster than elephants generally walk (6km/ hour).

* Never drive off the road or leave your vehicle to get closer to elephants/ other animals.

* Never make any noises or fast, jerky movements to attract the animals attention.

* Never hang out of windows or sunroofs around elephants/ other animals.

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