Science

Tracking

Tracking Dangerous Criminals

by Louis Liebenberg

 

criminal headline

 

Tracking dangerous criminals in a nature conservation context usually involves tracking down poachers.

In national parks in Africa, for example, poachers may be armed with automatic rifles and pose a formidable threat. Dealing with armed poachers requires tactical tracking, often involving setting up an ambush along a route known to be used by the poachers. Setting up an ambush involves gathering intelligence based on tracks and signs, as well as human intelligence, gathered from informants in local communities.

To obtain reliable intelligence from communities requires that conservation agencies develop and maintain good relations with local communities. In a broader socio-economic context this means that communities should benefit from conservation.

The most effective anti- poaching methods involve a community game guard approach, such as that pioneered by Garth Owen-Smith in Namibia. Often the best trackers are those who were the most effective poachers, but who were employed by the communities as community game guards. One example is the legendary "Piet Renoster" (his nickname can be translated as "Pete Rhino") in the Kaokoland, who was renowned for his skill as a rhino poacher, but became one of the best community game guards.

Another threat is that posed by armed criminals who target visitors in national parks.

This has been an ongoing problem in the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, South Africa. Criminal attacks include armed robbery, assault of visitors and rape by gangs of two to four men, usually armed with knives, who do not hesitate to stab victims who resist them. There have been incidents where criminals were armed with guns.

These criminals are often under the influence of drugs (such as methamphetamine, also known as "crystal meth" or locally as "tik"), making them more dangerous and unpredictable.

In the year 2000, shortly after I moved to Noordhoek, I read about an attack on Noordhoek beach in one of the local newspapers, and went to the Fish Hoek Police station to offer my assistance as a tracker.

When I first moved to Noordhoek, which falls within the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, armed robberies and assaults took place on average two to four times a week.

Due to the remoteness of the area, the police and park rangers were unable to apprehend suspects. Criminal gangs would walk through the wetlands to the beach, where they would hide in the dunes, or inside the Kakapo ship wreck that is a popular destination for tourists.

Tracking-criminals-1

When victims are attacked, their cell phones are usually stolen, leaving them to do a 20 to 30 minute walk to get help, by which time the criminals have been able to run back to their settlements, disappearing into the crowds. This made it impossible for police to catch them after an attack had been reported. So the attacks were relentless. When police tried to stage stake-outs, criminals would see them in the dunes and simply walk away.

After volunteering my services to the police, I was called out one day after an attack was reported.

From the tracks I could see where they were hiding in the dunes, how they stalked up to their victims and surrounded them so that they could not get away. I then tracked them back to the settlement where they came from, where I established the point where they entered the settlement.

Using the CyberTracker software to plot their movements and hiding places, I was able to provide the police with a detailed map which we could use to plan an operation.

An essential part of the strategy was to get to know the area, to gather information on the criminals by studying their tracks, their movements and where they were hiding.

When tracking dangerous criminals (especially when you are working alone), your first priority is to be alert for danger, scanning the environment around you on a continuous basis. You need to spend 90% of the time looking for danger and 10% of the time looking down at the ground for tracks.

Even when studying tracks in detail, measuring them and taking photographs, you need to be constantly alert for danger. When you are on the trail of dangerous criminals, there is a very good chance that they could be on their way back and find you on their trail.

When moving through the landscape, you need to visualize where the criminals may be hiding and move in such a way that they will not see you from where they are.

You also need to hide your own tracks so that they do not find out that you are tracking them. To do this I resoled my boots with a smooth sole of soft crepe rubber. This enabled me to step on top of small bushes and scrubs without leaving any footprints.

Sometimes it may simply be impossible to hide your tracks, for example on barren dunes. Then you need to move through areas where the criminals do not go, so that they will not notice your tracks in the sand.

Tracking-criminals-2

Instead of following the criminals' trail, you sometimes need to leave their trail, loop around a dune and pick it up further ahead, so that it is not obvious that you have been following them. You track their trail from a distance, you never walk on it, or never closer than ten meters from it if you can help it.

Knowing the movements of the criminals made it possible for me to plan strategic observation posts from where their movements could be monitored.

I hollowed out a hiding place hidden in the tall grass on the top of one of the tallest dunes, and would lie there and wait for the criminals, who would then hide themselves right in front of me in the dunes closer to the beach. I could then alert the police when the criminals were active.

I got to know them so well that I could predict which group of visitors they were going to attack.

Individual criminals were monitored by photographing their tracks. Tracks also made it possible to establish associations between criminals by comparing groups of individuals who walk together on different days.

For example, several smaller groups ranging from three to five individuals were associated with each other, indicating that they were part of a syndicate of at least eight men.

Criminals who got away from the crime scene, but were arrested later, were connected to the crime scene with footprint evidence, identifying distinctive wear patterns, cracks and cuts in the soles of the shoes.

CyberTracker data plotting their trail from where they attacked their victims to the point where they were arrested also connected them with the crime scene.

Potential suspects can also be identified by the way they walk. For example, criminals often loiter and drag their heels in a way that hikers do not. They may also wear worn-out shoes, while hikers usually wear hiking boots.

The context of tracks may also indicate potential suspects. For example, suspects may hide behind a bush away from a path, from where they wait and watch for potential victims. Their footprints may indicate that they were crouching, looking towards the beach.

Tracking-criminals-3

Or further back from the beach, where visitors never go, any footprints found in a specific area most likely belong to suspects walking through the wetlands on their way to the dunes on the beach.

Identifying fresh footprints in paths only used by suspects make it possible to monitor when criminals have moved into their hiding places in the dunes. It is therefore important to establish where suspects came from and where they were going to, in order to plan operations.

Tracking suspects also enabled me to discover hiding places in thick bush that park rangers were unable to detect.

One trail disappeared into a thick bush, and inside the bush suspects had cleared a hiding place where they made fire, drank beer and were able to watch the Kakapo ship wreck for potential victims. This hiding place was so well hidden that rangers walking a few meters past it would not have seen it.

On one day I was asked by one of the local horse riders to investigate suspects he had seen on the beach. It was very windy that day, so most tracks were obliterated by the strong wind, making it difficult to find tracks in spots shaded by bushes and tufts of grass.

Tracking alone with my Border Collie Cleo, I struggled to follow the trail, but at one point Cleo gave a soft bark, warning me of danger hidden in the bush nearby. I immediately backed off, but the criminals saw me.

I have spent months gathering tracking information, being careful to move through the landscape in such a way that the criminals would not see me and taking precautions to hide my own tracks.

With hindsight it was maybe not a good idea to go out alone on such a windy day, but the horse rider was very insistent that I must investigate these suspects, and there was a danger that someone could be attacked that day.

For the first time I found myself confronted by the criminals themselves. And what happened took me by surprise – I was suddenly gripped by a level of fear that was very different from what you feel when you encounter dangerous animals.

When confronted by a dangerous animal, you experience a natural fear that is somehow neutral – there is nothing personal about it. The animal is doing what you would expect it to do and it is perfectly natural.

Tracking-criminals-4

But when you are confronted by humans who carry knives and who relentlessly pursue you until they have cornered you, especially when you are alone and know that no one can help you, there is something very different in the fear you experience – the intension of humans who attack you with knives somehow creates a quality of fear that is much more intense than I expected.

I had to get a grip on my emotions in order to deal with the situation. Fortunately, as they closed in on me and I drew my firearm, they backed off and walked away.

One of the biggest problems I initially experienced was that no one seemed to understand what I was doing – they simply could not understand what a tracker can do.

Initially the police were skeptical, and did not think that I could help them to catch the criminals. It was only after ten months of gathering tracking data, when Inspector Heinrich Smith accompanied me into the wetlands and dunes, that the police finally understood how the tracking data could help them.

The tracking information allowed us to plan an ambush within an ambush – we ambushed the criminals within their own ambush.

Once all the tracking information was gathered and mapped out, I could show the police exactly where to hide, so that the criminals would not spot the police as they moved in from behind the dunes into their own hiding places. Once the criminals settled into their hiding places, they were already surrounded by police, who simply had to wait for them to attack their next victim.

After the first successful arrest, however, the criminals knew that the police were hiding in the dunes.

One day I noticed tracks of a single individual who was moving in the dunes in a suspicious manner. This was unusual, since they usually operated in groups (except for one man, whose footprints I knew, described by his victims as having a Rasta hair style and carrying a very long knife). I followed the tracks of the single individual, and then realized that he was scouting the dunes – he was looking to see if there were police in the dunes, before they decided to attack their victims.

By this time, after a spate of new attacks threatened to get out of hand, I had employed Master Tracker James Minye (JJ) to help me track the criminals, since I could only volunteer a few hours in the late afternoons.

JJ had been on patrol with Marlyn Joseph, one of the park rangers, when he found a group of suspects moving into the dunes, and called me on his cell phone to give them backup (park rangers in this park are not issued with firearms, so they depended on me and Inspector Smith to assist them).

Tracking-criminals-5

To counter the new strategy of criminals scouting the dunes, I identified a dune further back from the beach, where I suggested the park rangers should hide and wait for the criminals to settle down.

Once the criminals settled down in their ambush site, JJ and I stalked up to them, hiding right behind them in the dunes. While JJ monitored the criminals and signaled to me when it was safe, I signaled to the rangers that they can move into position.

By careful stealth and coordination, we were able to once again set up an ambush within and ambush.

For this particular operation, we called in Inspector Smith, who by then has been working closely with me for over three years and therefore knew what I was doing. He rushed over to the beach, in civilian clothing, and acted as a decoy, walking into the criminals' ambush.

What happened next surprised both Inspector Smith and me.

We had to wait until the knives came out, otherwise we would have no case against them. If we showed ourselves too soon, they would simply walk away.

As they closed in Inspector Smith identified himself as a police officer, showed his badge and drew his firearm.

But they kept on going for him.

They were under the influence of drugs which gave them a false sense of invincibility. Even when Inspector Smith fired warning shots in front of them, they still went for him.

Two of them walked into his line of fire, the one got himself wounded in the foot and the other in the groin. Only when the rest of us came rushing out of the dunes to capture them, did they turn to run.

Tracking-criminals-6

This incident was a serious cause for concern. I realized that if the same thing had happened to me when I was confronted while I was alone, they may well have tried to kill me, unless I managed to shoot them first (in Cape Town criminals have killed armed police officers to steal their firearms).

Inspector Smith and I were also concerned that after this shooting incident, future attacks may escalate – instead of carrying knives, they may carry guns.

Fortunately this arrest effectively put an end to the beach attacks for at least two years. The shooting incident must have given all the criminals operating in the area something to think about.

I suspect that an additional deterrent was that they did not know how we caught them. They scouted the dunes and thought it was safe, but then found themselves surrounded by rangers who appeared out of nowhere.

When initiating a tracking operation against dangerous criminals, especially in a small community like Noordhoek, a whole range of factors needs to be considered. In addition to applying your tracking skills, an operation can have various impacts at different levels, including your personal safety, the safety of the rangers and police who work with you, as well as the emotional impact it may have on people who are close to you.

When you have immersed yourself in the tracking and have a detailed understanding of what is happening, you may feel that you have a high degree of control over the situation. But other people may not understand what you are doing, so it may impact on them in unexpected ways.

Days after we made the last arrest ranger Marlyn Joseph told me how he feared for his life when they saw the criminals, and how his heart lifted when he heard over the radio that I was coming to assist them – only when I joined them was he able to pluck up the courage to go through with the operation.

For the first time I realized that by initiating such an operation you take on a responsibility for the safety of others who are less experienced and who look up to you for leadership.

One day, as I rushed out to assist JJ, Jessica (my partner at the time) reacted with intense anxiety, saying "you go out to fight people with knives!" while gesturing violent stabbing motions with her hand – only then did I realize that my volunteer actions were having a serious emotional impact on the woman I loved.

Some time after he was released from jail, one of the criminals rode past me on his bicycle – he nodded and gave me a friendly smile, and I smiled back at him, as if in a moment of mutual recognition – even criminals have a human side.

Tracking-criminals-7

The saddest thing is to go to court and see their elderly mothers, reading their Bibles and praying for their sons.

Over the next four years we picked up tracks on several occasions, indicating that criminals were probing to see if there was an opportunity to attack potential victims, but intensifying the ranger patrols deterred them.

The CyberTracker monitoring programme has proven very successful in reducing and preventing attacks on visitors. After several arrests in 2004, there were no reported attacks on visitors and a number of attempted attacks were prevented during the period of 2005 to 2007.

Only three attacks slipped through our fingers on Noordhoek beach over the two years leading up to June 2009.

Noordhoek beach will always pose a potential danger for visitors. Ranger patrols can never provide guaranteed safety and there will always be the risk of serious attacks.

Only continuous monitoring by expert trackers will keep Noordhoek beach (and the rest of the park) safe.

June 2009

 

Further Reading

Cape Times: Man on a mission to track muggers

Cape Times: Armed team to target mountain muggers?

Sunday Times: Bushman Tracking Catches Muggers

Tracking: Combining an ancient art with modern policing

Proposal to make Table Mountain National Park save for visitors

 

 

 

The Tracker Institute

The Centre of Learning for the Art of Tracking

 

Tracker-Institute

 

The Tracker Institute is a Centre of Learning for the highest standards of excellence in the art of tracking.
The Art of Tracking may well be the origin of science. After hundreds of thousands of years, traditional tracking skills may soon be lost. Yet tracking can be developed into a new science with far-reaching implications for nature conservation.

The employment of trackers will also help to retain traditional skills which may otherwise be lost in the near future. Some of the most important applications of tracking would be in controlling poaching, in ecotourism, in environmental education and in scientific research.

Since 1994 we developed the CyberTracker Tracker Evaluation system which has gained international recognition for maintaining objective standards in tracking skills. However, there is a critical shortage of Senior Trackers and Master Trackers. The last few traditional Master Trackers may soon be too old and many have passed away. It is therefore critical that we develop the capacity of Senior Trackers and Master Trackers to provide high-level training for the new generation of trackers.

The Tracker Institute is situated in the Thornybush Nature Reserve, providing the opportunity to track lion, leopard, rhino and a wide diversity of species. The Institute provides the highest levels of theoretical and practical expertise in tracking.

Field expeditions are also conducted to the Kalahari to identify the last remaining traditional Master Trackers and to provide regular training workshops to ensure that traditional tracking skills will be passed on to the younger generation.

The Tracker Institute is managed by Louis Liebenberg, Master Tracker Wilson Masia and Senior Tracker Juan Pinto. Louis Liebenberg initiated the CyberTracker Tracker Evaluation system in 1994 at the Thornybush Nature Reserve.

Trailing I

* Female Trackers
Name
Date
Venue
Evaluators

Arthur, Tamaryn *

May 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Baas, Veronica *

Nov 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Baker, Robert

Oct 2009

Green Mountains National Forrest, VT USA

Adriaan Louw

Barreto, Ruggiero

Nov 2015

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Bebbington, John

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Becker, Nicholas Charles

Nov 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Beetge, Anaschka *

Nov 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Benadie, Joshua

Aug 2017

Aardvark Nature Reserve, The Nature College, SA

JJ Minye

Birch, Brandon Malcolm 

Mar 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Blunden, Courteney

Jan 2004

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Boake, Scott

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Boonzaaier, Tilanie *

Nov 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Booysen, Owen

Jul 2015

Motsumi Bush Courses, Pilanesberg, SA

Adriaan Louw

Botha, Grant

Apr 2013

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Botha, Jan Marthinus

Nov 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Botha, Lientjie *

Sep 2005

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Loskop Dam, SA

Adriaan Louw

Bothma, Eugene

Nov 2005

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Brown, Greg

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Brunzlaff, Werner

Oct 2014

Kwazulu Nature Reserve Bhejane, SA

Colin Patrick

Bryan, Adam

Jul 2009

Tuli, Botswana

Colin Patrick

Buitendag, Philip

Jul 2015

Motsumi Bush Courses, Pilanesberg, SA

Adriaan Louw

Bussien, Veronique *

Mar 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Buttermore, Katherine Frances *

Aug 2016

Bateleur, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Cabral, Santiago

Apr 2012

Entabeni, Nature Guide Training, SA

Lee Gutteridge

Cameron, Ian

Jun 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Chaknova, Dan

Apr 2012

Entabeni, Nature Guide Training, SA

Lee Gutteridge

Chauke, Cryzel

Aug 2013

Mabalingwe Kruger National Park, SA

Colin Patrick

Child, Natascha*

Nov 2016

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Colin Patrick

Christodoulides, Niki

Aug 2017

Aardvark Nature Reserve, The Nature College, SA

JJ Minye

Coetzer, Hugo H.

Apr 2005

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Collet, Antony Ewart

Sep 2015

Royal Malewane, Thorneybush Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Conradie, Marelize *

May 2013

Morukuru, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Cooley, Todd Nicholas

Oct 2008

Eastern Washington, USA

Adriaan Louw, Brian McConnell

Copeland, George

Jun 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

CrawCour, T. Lee

Nov 2005

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Crosley, Ryan Justin

Nov 2015

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Crouse, Michael

Oct 2008

Eastern Washington, USA

Adriaan Louw, Brian McConnell

Dasi, Rajesh

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

De Bruin, Diana *

Feb 2005

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

De Klerk, F.W.

May 2013

Kapama Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

De la Fuente, José Carlos

Oct 2014

Doñana National Park, Spain

Adriaan Louw

De Norre, Sander Geert Erik

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

De Villiers, Izak J.J.

Jan 2004

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

DiLorenzo, Noelle *

Dec 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Dippenaar, Peter

Nov 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Du Plessis, Calvin Ross

May 2013

Morukuru, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Du Plessis, Gerhard

Apr 2004

Mankwe Game Ranch, SA

Adriaan Louw

Du Plooy, J.C. (Liana) *

Jun 2006

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Dugdale, Sarah*

Oct 2014

Kwazulu Nature Reserve Bhejane, SA

Colin Patrick

Elson, Lara A. *

Oct 2003

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Erasmus, P.J. (Peter)

Nov 2004

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Esterhuysen, Gregory

Jul 2015

Motsumi Bush Courses, Pilanesberg, SA

Adriaan Louw

Fakude, Mbongeni Muzikayise

May 2009

Thanda Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Faunce, Jason

Oct 2010

Rhinelander, WI USA

Adriaan Louw

Fiedler, Stefan

Nov 2016

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Colin Patrick

Fourie, Diederik

May 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Gaerdner, Gregory Scott

Jun 2009

Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Gazide, Orange Pleasure

Apr 2007

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Getkate, Russell

Feb 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Gini, Michele Mike

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Glover, Jacqui *

Feb 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Godi, Omega

Nov 2003

King’s Camp, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Gouws, Albertus

Jun 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Griffieon, Diana Georgina *

Nov 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Groenewald, Rickus

May 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Hansche, Earnest Walter IV

Oct 2008

New England, USA

Adriaan Louw

Harris, Jeremy

Jun 2015

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Colin Patrick

Hay, Murray Brendon

Sep 2013

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Haydn, John Plilip

May 2009

Thanda Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Hedman, Alex

Oct 2009

Lost Valley, CA USA

Adriaan Louw, Brian McConnell

Hewitt, Samantha *

June 2017

Garonga, Greater Makalali Conservancy, SA

Adriaan Louw

Hlongwane, Norman

Aug 2008

Inyati, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Hofmeyr, Declan Murray

Jun 2008

Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Holden-Smith, Gaven

Oct 2003

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Hollzhauzen, Nicholas T.

Nov 2004

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Horley, Brett

Apr 2007

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ingram-Gillson, Taryn Louise *

Nov 2007

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Jack, Ryan Alexander

Sep 2015

Royal Malewane, Thorneybush Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Jackson, Dale

Sep 2004

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Jansen, Johannes Hermanus

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Jarvis, Gregory

Jul 2015

Motsumi Bush Courses, Pilanesberg, SA

Adriaan Louw

Jenkinson, Keith

Mar 2007

Akeru, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Johnston, Phillip

Oct 2010

Sauk River, WA USA

Adriaan Louw

Jones, Jeremy

Jul 2015

Motsumi Bush Courses, Pilanesberg, SA

Adriaan Louw

Joubert, Ruth *

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Katane, C.I. (Chris)

Feb 2006

Shishangeni, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Kay, Isabelle *

Oct 2009

San Diego County, CA USA

Adriaan Louw

Kehmna, Daniel Frank

Nov 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Kelly, Declan

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Kern, Steven Edward

Aug 2016

Bateleur, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Khoza Chriswell

May 2008

Arathusa Safari Lodge, SA

Alex van den Heever

Khoza, Clement G.

Jul 2006

Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Khoza, Sipho S.

Sep 2004

Singita, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Knibb, Matthew

Jun 2015

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Colin Patrick

Krige, Etienne

Jul 2016

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Colin Patrick

Kruger, Johannes Joaghim

Aug 2008

Leopard Hills, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Kubayi, Kenneth

Aug 2007

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Kubjana, Mabuti Jefferey

Jan 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Kulek, Stephanie *

May 2013

Morukuru, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

La Grange, Pieter Daniël Francois

Mar 2007

Motswari, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Lamprecht, Richard

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Last, Jan

Jul 2006

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Adriaan Louw, Colin Patrick

Lawrence-Apfel, Kirstin *

Oct 2008

New England, USA

Adriaan Louw

Lawrence-Apfel, Kirstin *

Jun 2009

Morukuru, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Leahy, Warren

May 2013

Morukuru, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Leane, Phineas

Jun 2014

Garonga, Greater Makalali Conservancy, SA

Adriaan Louw

Lehutjo, Meshack Tsietsi

Feb 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Lennon, Bronwyn *

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Lion, Kelly *

Oct 2009

San Diego County, CA USA

Adriaan Louw

Locker, Angie *

Sep 2005

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Loskop Dam, SA

Adriaan Louw

Löffler, Lara *

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Loots, Johan Francois

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Louw, Johan

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mabasa, Lucky

Jul 2015

Motsumi Bush Courses, Pilanesberg, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mabuza, Bricks

Jan 2016

Motswari Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

MacNeillie, Mark J.

Jul 2006

Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Magano, Isreal Kagiso

Jul 2014

Tau, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mahangu, Mandia

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Makamu, Lucas L.

May 2004

Singita, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Makhubele, Ronald

Aug 2013

Mabalingwe Kruger National Park, SA

Colin Patrick

Makhubele, Tiyani

Jan 2016

Motswari Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Makukule, Patrick M.

Nov 2003

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Makwakwa, Bernard

May 2013

Kapama Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Makwakwa, Haward

Feb 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Maluleke, Thomas Khazamiua

Aug 2013

Mabalingwe Kruger National Park, SA

Colin Patrick

Mangena, Mpho

Apr 2016

Kapama Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Manzini Robert

Jun 2008

Kirkman's Kamp, Sabi Sands, SA

Alex van den Heever

Marais, Jean

Aug 2006

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Loskop Dam, SA

Adriaan Louw

Marchal, Antoine

Aug 2008

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Maré, Francois

Jul 2015

Motsumi Bush Courses, Pilanesberg, SA

Adriaan Louw

Marple, Bill

Oct 2009

Lost Valley, CA USA

Adriaan Louw, Brian McConnell

Marx, Madél*

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Mashaba, Daniel Silence

Aug 2007

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mashaba, Kennith Manghaveni

Feb 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mashaga, Fanyana R.

Sep 2004

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mashia, Phillip

Dec 2003

Sandrivier, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Matern, Megan Elizabeth *

Jul 2014

Tau, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mathebula, Abraham Moses

Apr 2007

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mathebula, Adolf

Apr 2016

Kapama Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Mathebula, Glen

April 2016

Timbavati

Andreas Liebenberg, Juan Pinto

Mathebula, Given

Feb 2011

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mathebula, Kennet

Mar 2005

Singita, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mathebula, Poundy Edwell

Aug 2013

Mabalingwe Kruger National Park, SA

Colin Patrick

Mathebula Thamsa, Mbongeni

Jan 2016

Motswari Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Mathebula, Mfana Renias

Mar 2007

Akeru, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mathebula, Vusi Goodman

Apr 2007

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mathenjwa, Sakhile Patrick

May 2009

Thanda Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mathonsi, Albert

Jul 2013

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mathonsi, Xihangalansi Isac

Mar 2007

Akeru, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mc Bride, Derek Samuel Morrow

Nov 2015

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

McMillan, Brendon L.

Jan 2006

King’s Camp, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mendes, Mario C.

Jul 2006

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Adriaan Louw, Colin Patrick

Mgiba, Herold

May 2005

Motswari, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mgiba, Themba E.

Mar 2005

Singita, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mhlaba, Kruger

Jul 2013

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mhlanga, Michael Lourance

Feb 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mhlongo, Jonas L.

Feb 2006

Shishangeni, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mkhari, Patrick

Jan 2016

Motswari Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Mnisi, B Morries

Apr 2003

Djuma, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mnisi, Ray Wisdom

Aug 2013

Mabalingwe Kruger National Park, SA

Colin Patrick

Mnisi, Simon

Feb 2006

Shishangeni, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Moasi, M. Elias

Mar 2005

Makalali Conservancy, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mokgatlhe, Basimane Aubrey

Jul 2014

Tau, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mokgope, Remember Motsekeng

Aug 2013

Mabalingwe Kruger National Park, SA

Colin Patrick

Molobela, Petros Chuganang

May 2005

Motswari, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Moloi, Johannes Thabo

Nov 2007

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mongoe, Noel

Apr 2016

Kapama Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Mosoma, H. S. (Jim)

Dec 2003

Sandrivier, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Msani Maxwell

Feb 2008

Phinda Game Reserve, SA

Alex van den Heever

Mthetho, William

Apr 2003

Djuma, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Mueller, Sascha

Jul 2006

Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ndhlovu, J. James

Nov 2004

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ndhlovu, J. James

Dec 2005

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ndhlovu, Rixios

Sep 2013

Marula North, Kruger National Park, SA

Colin Patrick

Ndlovu, Judas Brayn

Sep 2009

Garonga Concession, Makalali Conservancy, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ndlovu, Themba K.

Sep 2004

Singita, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ndlovu, Vusi

Sep 2013

Marula North, Kruger National Park, SA

Colin Patrick

Neizel, Jacques Pierre

May 2013

Morukuru, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Nel, A.J. (John)

Dec 2005

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Nell, André

Sep 2013

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ngoveni, Shadrack Proof

Jun 2014

Nxanatseni South, KNP, SA

Colin Patrick

Ngubande, Victor Sicelo 

Sep 2006

Phinda Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ngubane, Bheki Christopher

May 2009

Thanda Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ngwenya, Civilised Nebraska

Feb 2011

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Ngwenya, Duncan

Sept 2016

Timbavati

Andreas Liebenberg

Nhlanga, Petro

Jan 2016

Motswari Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Nieuwoudt Terance Luke

Aug 2016

Tne Nature College

JBM Minje & Johan Fourie

Nils, Raphael

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Nkuna, Rector

Apr 2007

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Nsele Mduduzi

Feb 2008

Phinda Game Reserve, SA

Alex van den Heever

Nyathi, Ntsako

Jan 2016

Motswari Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Nyathi, Phillip D.

May 2003

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

O'Connor-Pretorius, Daniel

Sep 2013

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Oelschlaeger, Chris

Aug 2012

Bateleur, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Onwood, Charles

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Oosthuizen, Etienne

Aug 2014

Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Oosthuizen, Tanita*

Oct 2014

Kwazulu Nature Reserve Bhejane, SA

Colin Patrick

Rattray, Hayden

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Parker, Gary

Aug 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Parmer, Joshua

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Peel, Daniel Geoffrey

Nov 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Pitts, Gregory

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Posthumus, Greg

Jan 2012

Ulusaba, Sabi Sands, Nature Guide Training, SA

Lee Gutteridge

Perakis, Charlie

Oct 2010

Green Mountains National Forrest, VT USA

Adriaan Louw, Brian McConnell

Pirie, Tara-Jane *

Feb 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Pitts, Steven

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Powell, Grace Aliya *

Aug 2016

Bateleur, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Preller, Shani *

Nov 2005

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Loskop Dam, SA

Adriaan Louw

Pretorius, Marco

May 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Proll, Juan

Apr 2012

Entabeni, Nature Guide Training, SA

Lee Gutteridge

Puplett, Dan

Aug 2012

West Sussex, England

Brian McConnell

Rebuzzi, Massimiliano

Dec 2008

EcoTraining, Selati Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Reid, Jared

Jul 2015

Motsumi Bush Courses, Pilanesberg, SA

Adriaan Louw

Richardson, Mark

Jul 2016

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Colin Patrick

Riley-Hawkins, Mark 

Nov 2004

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Roaman, Daniel M

Oct 2010

Sauk River, WA USA

Adriaan Louw

Robenheimer, Johannes Nicolaas

Jun 2005

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Robertson, Sean Nicholas Louis

Jul 2009

Garonga Concession, Makalali Conservancy, SA

Adriaan Louw

Roets, Pieter

Apr 2012

Entabeni, Nature Guide Training, SA

Lee Gutteridge

Rogers, Natalie

Jul 2009

Tuli, Botswana

Colin Patrick

Romani, Toni

Oct 2014

Doñana National Park, Spain

Adriaan Louw

Roux, Laurie

Oct 2003

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Savage, Jason

Oct 2014

Kwazulu Nature Reserve Bhejane, SA

Colin Patrick

Scarisbrick, David

Jun 2006

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Scarlett, Heather Fiona *

Apr 2005

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Schoeman, Schonita*

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Scoular, Seonaid*

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Seepane, Jerity Maxwell

Jun 2014

Nxanatseni South, KNP, SA

Colin Patrick

Senokwane, Godfrey

Mar 2016

Madikwe Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Shobede, M. Derrick

Mar 2005

Makalali Conservancy, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sibuyi, Adolph Hanyeiine

Jun 2008

Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sibuyi, Bongani

Jun 2014

Nxanatseni South, KNP, SA

Colin Patrick

Sibuyi, M. Douglas

Sep 2004

Singita, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sibuyi, Mabyaweni Richard

Nov 2004

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sibuyi, Patrick Tonny

Jul 2013

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sibuyi, Reckson

Jul 2013

Lion Sands, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw with Senior Tracker Lucas Mathonsi

Sibuyi, Samuel Semmy

Apr 2007

Lion Sands, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sithole, Dunisani Dlokwakhe

Sep 2006

Phinda Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sithole, Eckson

Dec 2004

Kirkman’s Kamp, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sithole, Edward

April 2016

Timbavati

Andreas Liebenberg, Juan Pinto

Sithole, Solly R.

Apr 2003

Djuma, Sabi-Sand Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Siwelane, Jeffrey Justice

Aug 2007

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Smith, Dylan Anthony

Jul 2014

Tau, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Smith, Talley Popham *

May 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Snyman, Jansen Charl

May 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Snyman, Johannes Jurie

Nov 2016

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Colin Patrick

Snyman, Wendy*

Nov 2016

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Colin Patrick

Sole, Michelle *

Nov 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sommerlatte, Franziska *

Apr 2005

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Spence, Gabriel

Oct 2009

Lost Valley, CA USA

Adriaan Louw, Brian McConnell

Steffny, Phillip Carl

Nov 2006

Ngala Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Steyn, Arló

Oct 2014

Kwazulu Nature Reserve Bhejane, SA

Colin Patrick

Steyn, Barend

May 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Steyn, Collin

Oct 2003

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Mabula, SA

Adriaan Louw

Steyn, Courtney *

Oct 2015

Bhejane, Amakosi Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Steyn, Phillip-Vincent

Nov 2005

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Loskop Dam, SA

Adriaan Louw

Steyn, Tjaart

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Stolz, Okker

Mar 2016

Madikwe Private Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Stone, Martin

Apr 2016

Timbavati

Andreas Liebenberg, Adriaan Louw

Strydom, Hendrik

April 2012

Entabeni, Nature Guide Training, SA

Lee Gutteridge

Strydom, Vanessa *

Dec 2003

Sandrivier, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Sunderland, Amanda *

April 2012

Entabeni, Nature Guide Training, SA

Lee Gutteridge

Swart, Marius

Jan 2012

Letaba, Kruger National Park

Colin Patrick

Taras, Mike

Oct 2009

Stampede Pass, WA, USA

Adriaan Louw, Brian McConnell

Tellari, Marcus S.

Oct 2009

Stampede Pass, WA, USA

Adriaan Louw, Brian McConnell

Thiriaux, Iris

Apr 2012

Entabeni, Nature Guide Training, SA

Lee Gutteridge

Tolchard, Thomas Jeffrey

Jun 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Tremeer, Kerri Jane *

Mar 2007

Akeru, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Trüter, Magda *

Jun 2006

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Tweedie, Alex*

Oct 2014

Kwazulu Nature Reserve Bhejane, SA

Colin Patrick

Ubisi, Giyani

May 2003

Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Upton, Amy*

Oct 2016

Bhejane, Amakosi, SA

Colin Patrick

Van den Bergh, Alicia *

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van der Bergh, Theuns

Feb 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van der Merwe, Piet

Dec 2003

Sandrivier, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van Rensburg, Christo

Apr 2004

Pilanesberg Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van Schalkwyk, Zjak

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van Staden, Kobus

Nov 2005

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van Tonder, B. J. (Banie)

Aug 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van Tonder, Eljane *

Dec 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van Tonder, Rickus Karel Frederick

Nov 2008

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Van Wyk, C.J. (Corrie)

Jul 2006

Moholoholo Mountain View, SA

Adriaan Louw, Colin Patrick

Venter, Rika *

Sep 2005

Limpopo Field Guiding Academy, Loskop Dam, SA

Adriaan Louw

Viljoen, Andrew James

Jun 2009

Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Viljoen, Mark

Apr 2004

Pilanesberg Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Villegas, Javier

Jun 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Vuma, Arome

Jun 2014

Nxanatseni South, KNP, SA

Colin Patrick

Waggoner, Brad

Oct 2017

Motswari, Timbavati Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Ward, Willem J.

Apr 2004

Pilanesberg Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Wasas, Robynne

Oct 2017

Motswari, Timbavati Game Reserve, SA

Colin Patrick

Weaver, William Oliver

Oct 2014

Kwazulu Nature Reserve Bhejane, SA

Colin Patrick

Weerepas, Ian

Feb 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Wepener, Dale Spencer

Nov 2006

Ngala Private Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Werth, Lauren *

Oct 2004

Entabeni Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Wessels, Kenneth Richard

Apr 2013

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

Adriaan Louw

Whitlock, Janice *

Nov 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Whorton, Carl

Jun 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Whorton, Rachel *

Jun 2011

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Worsley, Paul

Aug 2012

West Sussex, England

Brian McConnell

Young, Lance D.

Jul 2006

Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park, SA

Adriaan Louw

Yuen, Oliver

Apr 2007

Entabeni Nature Guide Training School, SA

Adriaan Louw

Dangerous Animals

 

Lions

 

In order to study spoor, one must inevitably go to places where one will most likely encounter wild and often dangerous animals. It is therefore necessary to prepare oneself for such an encounter, so that one can avoid possible confrontations or, in the case of an accidental confrontation, know how to deal with it.

Professional conservationists, rangers, veterinarians and researchers must, given the nature of their work, expose themselves to an element of danger. Sometimes it may be necessary for them to take calculated risks, otherwise they will never get their work done.

People who take unnecessary risks, however, are not 'brave' - they are simply stupid. There is no place for bravado in the wilds.

Recreational walks in the wilderness are becoming increasingly popular. In this way people gain first-hand experience of nature and develop positive attitudes towards conservation. Those going on such walks should at least know about the possible dangers involved, so that they will know what to do and not give way to irrational fears.

The inexperienced naturalist should at all times be accompanied by an experienced ranger or tracker.

The shooting of dangerous animals should be left to experienced rangers who know what they are doing. Unless one is an excellent marksman and knows exactly when and where to shoot an animal, it may be better not to shoot at all, since there is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal. Even if unarmed or armed with only a throwing stick/club and a knife, the appropriate reaction may save your life. Furthermore, it is not always possible to carry a firearm. Visitors to Botswana, for example, are not allowed to carry firearms.

One's first priority should always be to avoid confrontations. The advice given in this section should be followed only as a last resort in the event of an accidental confrontation.

Never test a dangerous animal, since there are always exceptions to the rule. While animals may generally conform to certain characteristic behaviours, it must be remembered that individual animals have their own 'personalities', and that some individuals may deviate from the norm.

Although the author has endeavoured to ensure that the information given is as reliable as possible, neither he nor the publisher assumes responsibility for any action taken as a result of information contained here.

The inexperienced naturalist who intends spending a lot of time in the wilds may go through several learning stages.

Initially you may experience irrational fears of unknown dangers because of your lack of knowledge. Such a state of mind can result in panic, which may have fatal consequences. You should avoid this at all cost by gaining as much knowledge as possible.

Over a period of time, when nothing serious happens, you may grow careless. Such an attitude is dangerous because if you do encounter a dangerous animal, you may be caught off guard at a time when you should be in full control of yourself.

As you begin to encounter dangerous animals, while as yet no serious incidents have occurred, familiarity breeds contempt. And if you are at an adventurous youthful age, you may even be inclined to become slightly reckless. However, when you have reached the stage when you disregard natural fear, you are in even greater danger than ever before.

At one point I had the foolish habit of picking up scorpions by their stings to put them down on smooth sand so that I could study their spoor. I thought that as long as I held a scorpion by its sting, it couldn't sting me! It seemed to work very well, until the day I was just a little too careless and was stung. Luckily it was a Scorpionid and not a Buthid.

You may be lucky enough to survive a few 'close shaves', but sooner or later recklessness may prove to be fatal. And if you are unlucky it may happen sooner rather than later.

After a few 'close shaves' you will probably become increasingly cautious as you begin to appreciate real dangers for what they really are. As you gain experience, knowledge diminishes irrational fear, but you will also develop a growing respect for dangerous animals, based on rational fear of real danger.

If you are well informed about the possible dangers, the appropriate cautious attitude may be adopted from the very start, and the dangerous initial learning stages can be avoided.

To minimise the chances of being killed by a dangerous animal you need to overcome an irrational fear of the unknown, while avoiding irrational fearlessness of what you think you 'know'. You should at all times maintain a rational fear of known danger.

This requires an optimum combination of caution and curiosity. A healthy curiosity leads to an increase in knowledge, which diminishes irrational fear, but should always be tempered by adequate caution.

Natural fear is important, as long as it is kept under control. It keeps you alert, and when confronted by a dangerous animal, it intensifies the senses, makes you think faster, you seem to lose your emotional feelings, you don't feel pain and the adrenalin gives you additional strength.

You need to prepare yourself psychologically for a possible confrontation. No matter how small the chances are, always be prepared for the worst, because when it does happen, you won't have time to think about it.

When you are suddenly confronted by a dangerous animal at short range and the intense ice-cold sensation of fear shoots through your whole body, it is very difficult to react in a rational way. Furthermore, every muscle in your body will he tensed up, including your vocal chords, so your voice will come out in a high-pitched squeak. In order to sound aggressive when shouting at a charging animal, you have to force your voice tonality down. A high-pitched voice that sounds like a panic-stricken scream may well encourage a wild animal to attack you.

The intense fear makes the animal appear much bigger than it is, and time seems to stand still. Yet you must react instantly and intuitively, and your intuition must override your instinctive urge to flee.

To prepare yourself psychologically you should visualise an animal attacking you and in your imagination act out the appropriate response to that particular animal. This mental exercise should be repeated until it becomes second nature. It must become part of your intuitive way of thinking so that when the worst actually happens you will be mentally and psychologically prepared to react instantly, without having to think about it.

 

Lion

Lions usually move away when they become aware of approaching humans. Cases of Lions preying on humans are rare, though it is more common in some parts of Africa than others. Old or disabled Lions may take to killing humans, although healthy individuals may also turn to this practice. Unprovoked attacks on humans may also be accounted for by injuries from wire snares.

When you are moving into the wind, there is the danger of stumbling onto sleeping Lions. If suddenly disturbed, they can quickly become aggressive. Avoid thickets and dense tall grass, especially near waterholes and rivers. Lions spend the heat of the day sleeping, so you should be careful not to walk right into their midst.

Lions are particularly dangerous when you inadvertently come too close to them, if they are pursued or harassed, and when you encounter mating Lions, feeding Lions or Lions with cubs. Old or ill Lions are more aggressive. Lions are also more dangerous at night.

Avoid Lions by noting fresh spoor, vultures, the roaring of Lions and the laughing of Hyaenas. Their presence may be indicated by zebra and wildebeest that are hesitant to go near water, especially if they are staring at a thicket. Giraffes also indicate their presence by staring at a thicket.

It is important to recognise the sounds made by Lions when they are hunting, feeding, mating or have cubs with them. Feeding Lions should be approached with care (or not approached at all), since other Lions may be lying in the thickets in tall grass in the vicinity. When mating, their growls are initially soft and something like faraway thunder, increasing in intensity and eventually erupting in one or two very loud and ferocious snarls. A Lioness with cubs may reside in the vicinity of waterholes where they hunt and stay until the cubs are big enough. Their presence may be indicated by a soft umf call of the mother and the cat-like miaow of the small cubs.

Lions are most active around dusk, with hunting done largely at night. Lions do not roar while hunting, but at night the alarm calls of plovers and dikkops may indicate danger. When camping out at night one should have a big fire going and have someone to keep watch. While Lions may enter a camp when everyone is asleep, the presence of someone who is awake, will keep them away.

Getting out of a vehicle close to Lions is much more dangerous than actually coming face to face with a Lion in the bush. Suddenly appearing out of a vehicle may frighten them, which may prompt an attack in self-defence.

Never run away when you encounter Lions. If you run, they will run you down, as Lions instinctively charge and kill a fleeing animal. Stand still and slowly back away downwind until you are out of sight. If the Lion does not like the movement, stand still. The outcome of a surprise meeting is unpredictable. Male Lions usually avoid confrontation and quickly disappear. A female with young may be more aggressive. She may merely adopt an aggressive attitude, flicking the tail briskly while growling in a threatening way. At close range she may charge.

If the Lion's tail is twitching or jerking, but the ears are still cocked, it is probably just nervous or excited, but not angry. An angry Lion flattens its ears, crouches low, and whisks its tail ever more rapidly from side to side, while uttering a nerve-racking series of coughing grunts or slurring growls. As its anger mounts, its tail is jerked stiffly up and down, and it initially comes at a trot before charging.

Wounding the Lion at this critical stage can be as dangerous as turning and running. Unless you are sure you can stop it before it gets at you, it may be better not to shoot at all. There are two methods of dealing with a charging Lion (unless it is already wounded, in which case the only way to stop it is to kill it before it kills you). If you can keep your nerve, you should remain absolutely still, facing the charging Lion and not taking your eyes off it. It may then suddenly stop, only a few metres away, crouching flat on the ground while emitting nerve-shattering growls and roars. The display may last for only a few seconds, and when failing to unnerve you, it may suddenly turn and disappear into the bush. Be prepared, however, for another charge, and only back away when you are certain that it is safe to do so.

!Xõ trackers of the Kalahari maintain that if a Lion charges you, you must stand still and shout loudly and aggressively and throw sticks and stones at it. You must look it in the eyes, and not move back or try to run away. If you react aggressively towards it, the Lion will lose its nerve and back off. When it backs off, slowly move backwards. But when it charges again, once again stand still and shout at it. You must repeat this procedure, moving downwind, until you reach a safe distance.

To call a lion's bluff you need to work yourself up psychologically into an extremely aggressive frame of mind in spite of the fear you experience. !Xõ trackers deal with their fear by combining aggression with tension releasing humour. On one occasion, a group of trackers and I stumbled onto a lion that was busy stalking our camp. The trackers decided to chase it away, so we set out on its spoor, armed with throwing sticks, spears and clubs. As we followed the spoor, the trackers would shout aggressively, working one another up, and then hurl abusive insults at the lion, followed by laughter and joking to release the tension.

If you are charged by a Lion, it may happen very quickly, so you will not have time to think. Never be caught unprepared in such a situation. Condition yourself so that when it does happen, you will be able to react intuitively and instantly.

Leopard

Leopards usually shy away from humans, and are normally not dangerous if you leave them alone. They are only likely to become aggressive when threatened or provoked. If wounded, cornered or suddenly disturbed, they can become exceedingly dangerous. Stumbling across a female with cubs can also result in a dangerous situation. !Xõ trackers of the Kalahari maintain that it is dangerous to follow a Leopard's spoor, since it may ambush you if it realises you are following it to where her cubs are hidden. And following a wounded Leopard is one of the most dangerous situations a hunter can encounter.

In certain parts of Africa healthy Leopards have preyed on humans, usually killing women and children. Such behaviour is, however, atypical of Leopards in the southern African subregion. Old and sick Leopards, unable to catch wild prey, may, however, very exceptionally attack humans.

Apparently one can pass close by a hiding Leopard and as long as your eyes don't meet, it will allow one to pass. But the moment it is aware that one has noticed it, it will flee, or if cornered, may attack. !Xõ trackers maintain that you must never look a Leopard in the eyes when confronted by it, since you will infuriate it. By pretending to ignore it, it will most likely choose to avoid contact.

If you see a Leopard and you are not walking towards it, continue walking and do not look at it or stand still. If it realises that it has been seen, it may feel threatened and attack. When you encounter a Leopard at close range, and if it warns you by roaring, retreat slowly, moving sideways away rather than directly backwards, and don't stare at it. Try not to frighten the Leopard, and don't throw anything at it. Don't feed it as this is likely to make it bolder and possibly even aggressive.

Once committed to a full attack, only a fatal bullet will stop a charging Leopard. It charges very fast and low on the ground. It embraces its victim, with claws extended, and full use is made of the powerful dew claws. The victim is mauled with teeth and all four clawed feet, and the killing bite is directed at the back of the head or neck or the throat, the victim being throttled or has the jugular vein severed.

In one instance a Leopard attempting to attack a young Baboon was mobbed by the troop from which it fled. The noise created by the troop was sufficient to deter the Leopard. I know of one incident in a private nature reserve where a charging Leopard was, shouted down, but apparently the Leopards in that area have become so used to people that they are relatively 'tame' compared to Leopards in the wilder regions of southern Africa. In the Kalahari, for example, !Xõ trackers maintain that shouting will not stop a charging Leopard, and that you will have to kill it to save your own life. It would therefore appear that the reaction of Leopards may vary in different areas, depending on the amount of contact they have had with people.

There have been cases where people successfully defended themselves against Leopards with knives and even used stones to hit them on the head. In some cases unarmed people have been able to choke the Leopard to death or make the Leopard retreat by punching it on the nose. There are probably few people capable of such feats, but since one does not always carry firearms in many of the areas where Leopards are found, one might well keep in mind that in the extremely unlikely event of being attacked by a Leopard, it is possible to defend oneself.

Rhinoceros

The White Rhino is temperamentally quieter and more placid than the Black Rhino. It usually tends to run away, often circling downwind to investigate an intruder from a distance. There are, however, the odd White Rhino that may be dangerous, and may even track you down to charge you.

The Black Rhino, on the other hand, is known for its nervous, unpredictable temperament and can be extremely dangerous. This is particularly the case with bulls associating with receptive cows and cows with calves. Its eyesight is very poor, but its hearing and scent especially are good. When disturbed, it will stand still with its ears cocked and head raised. It may either utter a few snorts and trot away, or it may come at a lumbering gallop towards the intruder. Such a 'charge' may be merely to investigate a possible source of danger. Human scent will normally make rhinos move off, but their reactions depend on whether they have been hunted or molested or left in peace. In areas where rhinos have been disturbed they can become extremely vicious and dangerous. Black Rhinos also differ greatly in individual temperament. The rhino charges with its head held high in order to give it better vision, lowering the head in the last few paces to batter or throw the object of its rage.

When you encounter rhino, do not run away, but stand still and then move downwind. Meanwhile look for a suitable tree to climb. If there is no tree, slowly walk downwind and take off some article of clothing or rucksack to throw at it. If it charges, climb the nearest tree, or if there is no time, get behind it and freeze. If there is no tree, a rifle shot (into the air) or (at close quarters) a loud shout may make it swing away from you. If it still comes at you, then throw some article of clothing or rucksack at it to divert its attention before leaping sideways at the last moment so that it charges past you. If you lie perfectly still, it may lose interest and leave you alone. Black Rhino are very fast and agile, so do not risk a charge if you can help it.

Hippopotamus

The Hippo is a placid and inoffensive animal when left alone, but if provoked can be extremely dangerous. Solitary bulls and cows with calves can quickly become aggressive and there are many reports of small boats being overturned and the occupants bitten to death. Hippos demonstrate aggression by opening the mouth, displaying the imposing teeth and by making short charges through the water. Such charges are sometimes directed at intruders who venture too close to the edge of the water. When a grazing Hippo is disturbed, it is dangerous to be between it and the water, as it will blindly run alongs its path, trampling anything in its way. When confronted by a charging Hippo the best one can do is to dive out of the way. Avoid thickets near water and take note of their characteristic paths. Do not camp at or near Hippo paths or waterholes, since Hippos are attracted to fires and lights. During droughts when Hippo are concentrated in small waterholes, they feel threatened in the shallow water and may charge out.

Elephants

Elephants are normally quite placid and usually avoid confrontation, but may charge if approached too closely or molested and when there are small calves or ill-tempered individuals in the herd. Individuals that are sick or injured or have been wounded or hunted in the past can be aggressive and extremely dangerous. Tuskless Elephants have a bad reputation for being aggressive. Young bulls are inclined to be 'playful' and mischievous, and may demonstrate with mock charges.

When moving on foot, don't get too close on the upwind side of Elephants and be careful not to find yourself accidentally amongst members of a herd. If you encounter Elephants, don't run, but quietly move away downwind. Elephants have poor visual perception, but they have keen hearing and a highly developed sense of smell.

Mock charges, especially by old and lone bulls, are characterised by the ears spread out and a loud trumpeting display, and may end a few metres from the intruder, after which the Elephant retreats. To run away maybe fatal. If it demonstrates, stand still until it stops, then slowly move away downwind.

In case of a real charge, which is characterised by the ears flattened against the body with the trunk curled up, run for your life. However, running straight away from it, especially upwind, could aggravate the situation. A charging Elephant can reach a speed of up to 40 km/hour, so you won't outrun it. Start running soon enough and fast enough to stay out of its field of vision and suddenly turn sharp left or right, whichever is towards the downwind side, to run out of the charging Elephant's way, in the hope that it will rush past you. Trying to climb the highest tree will not help. Apart from being able to push down fairly big trees, an Elephant standing on its hind-legs and stretching its trunk into the branches can reach to a considerable height.

Buffalo

In normal circumstances Buffalo are generally inoffensive and usually rather avoid confrontation. They are inquisitive, and individuals may break away from a herd to examine vehicles. If disturbed, they will race back to rejoin the herd, which is quick to stampede. Their tendency to stampede when frightened, often in unexpected directions, call be highly dangerous. Cows with small calves, old solitary bulls, bulls that have been hunted and wounded in the past, and those who are harassed can be dangerous and may charge without provocation. It is also dangerous to stumble across and startle Buffaloes resting in a thick patch of bush, since their reactions can be unpredictable. Avoid thickets and reeds in or near rivers. When you encounter Buffalo, stand still and move away slowly. If an aggressive Buffalo charges, it will complete the charge, so do not stand still. Try to climb a tree, since you won't outrun it. The alarm calls of oxpeckers or egrets and the breaking of branches may be the first sign of a charging Buffalo, so be alert for those signs. A wounded Buffalo is extremely dangerous, and may even double back and lie in wait for its pursuer. When charging, only a fatal shot will stop it. While tracking Buffalo, remember that Lions may also be on the spoor and that you may well encounter the Lion before you find the Buffalo.

Honey Badger

While normally shy and retiring, Honey Badgers can sometimes without provocation become extremely aggressive. Normally docile individuals can suddenly, and for no apparent reason, develop 'fury moods', and return to docility just as suddenly.

I once encountered a Honey Badger late at night and out of curiosity wanted to have a closer look at it. As I pointed my torch at it, it suddenly and aggressively came towards me. When I intuitively switched off the torch, it turned away and disappeared into the dark. It was probably annoyed by the sharp light and intended to deal with it, but when the source of annoyance was removed its 'fury mood' dropped as suddenly as it flared up. It would appear that Honey Badgers are best left alone.

Their temperamental extremes are apparently related to their natural habits, contributing to their reputation for ferocity and fearlessness. They are courageous, and with their tough and loose hide, dangerous teeth and long strong claws, they are formidable opponents when aroused. There are accounts of a Honey Badger killing a Wildebeest, another killing a Waterbuck, and another killing a three-metre Python. An encounter between a Lion and a Honey Badger has been reported in which the Honey Badger was only killed after putting up a fierce defence. In encounters with dogs, Honey Badgers invariably come off best.

Spotted Hyaena

By day Spotted Hyaena usually avoid people. At night they will not enter a camp while people are awake, but will wait until everyone is asleep. There are many records of Hyaenas attacking sleeping people. They may sneak up as close as possible and then rush in and bite off a portion of their victim, with which they retreat. They are also prone to enter tents if they smell food inside.

They are, however, cowardly and will run away if you make a noise or adopt an aggressive attitude. Do not sleep in the open and do not let food or dirty dishes lie about. Under certain circumstances Spotted Hyaenas have been known to attack humans during the day and in some areas apparently specialise in this type of behaviour. In Malawi there have, for example, been instances where Spotted Hyaenas have attacked humans by day.

Wild Dog

Wild Dogs usually avoid humans and are unlikely to attack. They are also easily driven off a kill.

Cheetah

In the wilds Cheetahs are not dangerous to humans. When you approach them on foot, they will only give you one look and run off. Although they are timid and retiring, they can, however, be unpredictable and aggressive in captivity. There have been several reports in the press of Cheetahs in captivity, including 'tame' Cheetahs, attacking small children. Some may even attack adults. I once made the mistake of turning my back on a captive Cheetah, at which it suddenly charged me from behind. When I turned to confront it, it stopped dead in its tracks right in front of me and darted off.

Snakes

It is sometimes argued that there is greater danger in driving a car than being killed by a snake. This argument is, however, a fallacy. It may be true for the reckless driver who hardly ever goes into the field, but the careful driver who carelessly walks around barefoot in the field may be at greater risk of being killed by a snake. Furthermore, if you are a keen naturalist who spends a lot of time in the field, the chances of being bitten sooner or later are not insignificant (especially if you try to track down snakes). I myself have had more 'close shaves' with dangerous snakes than with cars. And people who handle snakes are certainly at great risk (over 90 per cent of known bites have occurred in people handling snakes). However, as long as you take the necessary precautions, the risk of being bitten can be minimised.

It is important to know snakes and to be able to identify at least all the dangerous snakes you will expect to find in a particular area. Snakes known to have killed people in southern Africa are:

  • Puff Adder, Bitis arietans
  • Gaboon Adder, Bitis gabonica
  • Egyptian Cobra, Naja haje
  • Cape Cobra, Naja nivea
  • Forest Cobra, Naja melanoleuca
  • Black-necked Spitting Cobra, Naja nigricollis
  • Mozambique Spitting Cobra, Naja mossambica
  • Black Mamba, Dendroaspis polylepis
  • Green Mamba, Dendroaspis angusticeps
  • Rinkhals, Hemachatus haemachatus
  • Coral Snake, Aspidelaps lubricus infuscatus
  • Boomslang, Dispholidus typus
  • Bird or Twig Snake, Thelotornis capensis
  • Rock Python, Python sebae.

Learn to recognise dangerous snakes by studying photographs, and visiting museums and snake parks. Memorise their characteristic features so that you have a visual image of what to look for. If you don't know what to look for, you may never see them, even if you are looking straight at them at close range. Once when I was still unfamiliar with snakes, I bent down to pick up a log, only to discover a Puff Adder curled up right in between my feet. Luckily it was early on a cold winter's morning, so it was still frozen stiff.

Also learn as much as possible about the habits of snakes, so that you will know what to expect when you encounter them, and what to do to avoid being bitten.

However, even when you get to know snakes, you cannot rely on your ability to see them, since most snakes are very well camouflaged. I once followed the spoor of a Puff Adder up to a bush where it went in and did not come out the other side. In spite of the fact that I knew what I was looking for (although I was unfamiliar with the different Cape colour morph), by the time I found it I realised I had almost stepped on it and must have looked straight at it several times without recognising it. One's mind tends to perceive the light colours on the snake as standing out and the dark colours as shadows receding into the background, so one doesn't recognise, the shape of the snake's body. Only when one recognises the characteristic chevron pattern as being that of a Puff Adder, does the snake itself come into focus.

Snakes prefer to flee, and only molestation will cause attack. Bites usually result from unwitting disturbance or physical contact such as when they are unexpectedly surprised or when, as in most adders which rely on immobility to escape attention, they are too closely approached or stepped on. Because they rely on their camouflage to remain undetected, Puff Adders account for the greatest number of serious snakebite cases.

Most bites occur on the feet and the lower half of the legs. Suitable footwear, preferably calf-length boots, and loose-fitting trousers, will therefore provide a large measure of protection. To tread warily is not enough. An alert attitude and watchfulness will help to avoid snakes. Look ahead and scan the path. Keep to paths and avoid long grass, rank undergrowth and riverine bush, or other situations where visibility is limited. Step onto logs or rocks, not over them, because a snake could be, lying on the other side. Pick up rocks and pieces of wood so that the underside faces away from you, leaving an avenue of escape for a snake. Never put an unprotected hand down a burrow or hole, as a snake may be using it as a lair.

Camps should be made on open ground. Food stores, which may attract rodents and therefore snakes, should be kept away from the sleeping area. Never walk around at night without adequate footwear and never without a good torch.

If you encounter a snake at close range, freeze. Snakes have poor vision and usually strike at moving objects. Any quick movement may precipitate an instinctive strike. Stand still and allow it to move away, or if it doesn't, back away slowly. Never run when you encounter a snake.

If a cobra or Rinkhals rears up, immediately close and cover your eyes and look away, in case it is a spitting cobra (by the time you have had a 'closer look' to identify it as a spitting cobra, it may be too late). Slowly back off to a safe distance. Some species can 'spit' up to three metres, and since the poison is ejected in a spray, some of it will invariably get into your eyes if unprotected. Wearing glasses (or sunglasses) will help to protect your eyes.

Never tamper with seemingly dead snakes, since some snakes feign death.

When someone has been bitten by a snake, a calm and confident demeanour is essential for both first-aider and victim, as emotional upset can be damaging in many ways.

Some people are allergic to antivenoms, so ensure victim receives medical supervision. Since complications may arise, it is inadvisable for the first-aider to inject antivenoms in the field. The use of a tourniquet is dangerous.

When applied immediately, suction can extract some of the venom, but it is useless later. A mechanical suction syringe, such as 'Aspivenin', may be used, but strictly as a first-aid measure only. Suction can also be applied for scorpion and spider evenomation.

For first-aid treatment, carry at least four 100 mm-wide crêpe bandages on all outings. If no bandages are taken, you will have to tear up clothing to use instead. Immediately apply the crêpe bandage over the bite and continue to wind it up the limb until you reach the groin (or armpit). Apply it as tightly as you would for a sprained ankle (just short of full stretch). Keep the bitten limb as still as possible. Do not remove clothing, simply apply the bandage over it. Apply a splint to immobilise the limb. It is believed that venom is dispersed via the lymph glands, and the application of a broad crêpe bandage inhibits the spread of the venom. In case of a bite on the trunk, neck or head, apply firm pressure to the bitten area if possible. Carry the victim to the nearest vehicle, or bring the vehicle to the victim. If the victim has to walk, he or she should do so calmly and slowly. Get the victim to the hospital as soon as possible. In the case of a cobra or mamba bite, give artificial respiration if necessary. Keep the victim's throat and air passage clear by swabbing with a handkerchief. If the snake can be killed without endangering anyone's life, it should be taken along for identification.

The use of a crêpe bandage is also effective for scorpion and spider envenomation. A crêpe bandage should, however not be used for adder bites, since the cytotoxic venom causes tissue destruction. Simply treat the victim for shock and get him or her to a hospital as soon as possible. In the case of a Puff Adder bite it may take up to 48 hours for the patient to develop a serious condition, so you should have adequate time to reach a hospital. In the case of a Gaboon Adder bite, which may result in sudden death, a crêpe bandage is unlikely to be of any use in any case.

If the poison of a 'spitting' snake gets into the eyes, do not rub the eyes. Holding the eyelids open, flush eyes with water or any bland fluid. Consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Crocodile

The presence of a Crocodile under water may be indicated by small air bubbles rising to the surface. Do not go near any body of water which may contain Crocodiles if you can help it.

Crocodiles are notorious for killing humans, usually attacking people wading in the shallows. If attacked and you don't have a firearm, your only hope is to stab it in the eyes with a knife, or sharp object, or even your fingers.

Scorpions

The dangerous Buthidae are characterised by their small pincers and thick tails, while the relatively harmless Scorpionidae have large pincers and thin tails. The most dangerous buthid genera are Parabuthus and Buthotus. The venom of scorpions is neurotoxic and may result in respiratory or cardiac failure. Young children and old people suffering from heart or respiratory ailments are particularly at risk. Some species of Parabuthus can squirt their venom for a distance of up to a metre, causing envenomation of the eyes or any open cut on the body. When aggravated, many scorpions are able to make a loud hissing noise similar to that of a small adder.

To avoid being stung by a scorpion, wear long trousers, and boots with socks tucked up over trousers. Do not put your hand into a hole, tunnel or bird's nest into which you are unable to see. Take care when picking up rocks and logs, and roll them towards you. Avoid picking up scorpions that appear to be dead, in case they are alive. Do not allow your face to come too close to a scorpion, since some can squirt their venom into your eyes. Check bedding and sleeping bags and sleep on a camp stretcher rather than on the ground. Leave boots in an upright position during the night and shake out clothing and boots before putting them on the next morning. Check loose-lying rocks and dead leaves and wood around your campsite. Never walk barefoot outside at night.

Being able to recognise scorpion spoor may also help one avoid being stung. When doing fieldwork in the Kalahari, I one morning found scorpion spoor close to where I was sleeping. Following the spoor, I discovered the scorpion underneath the spare wheel that I had been using as a seat.

Spiders

Only one local species, the Black Widow, or 'button spider', Latrodectus mactans indistinctus, is known to be potentially lethal. The poison is neurotoxic, with the possibility of the victim dying of respiratory failure of heart failure or both. Less than 5 per cent of untreated bites by this spider may result in death. Young children and elderly people with heart or respiratory ailments are particularly at risk.

Most accidents occur when people lift objects or plants harbouring the spiders. If the spider is hurt in the process, it will bite in self-defence. When molested in their webs, they often sham death, rolling up into a ball. If picked up (while shamming death), they will bite. To avoid being bitten, the same precautions as with scorpions should be taken.

Ostrich

An Ostrich may attack humans if they get too close to its nest. It does not help to run away, since one will never outrun it. The best defence is to shield yourself with a branch from an acacia thorn tree or to lie face downwards protecting the nape of one's neck with one's hands until it goes away. The Ostrich has sharp toenails and can give a powerful kick. Most deadly wounds are to the head, since it continues its attack even after the victim is on the ground.

Rabid animals

Rabid animals are often characterised by unusual behaviour, which may include attacking humans. An animal may wander around aimlessly with saliva dribbling from the open mouth. Wild animals may appear tame or aggressive, or may show signs of convulsion or partial paralysis. Someone who has been bitten by a rabid animal must be taken to a hospital as soon as possible. The bite wounds must be washed and disinfected immediately.

Baboon

Old male Baboons are very powerful and have large canines. They may have unpredictable tempers and can quickly become aggressive if suddenly frightened or thwarted in any way. In areas where Baboons have become accustomed to humans, they can be aggressive, especially if people have been feeding them.

Antelopes

Apart from the Buffalo, other antelopes that can be dangerous under certain circumstances include the Black Wildebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Tsessebe, Roan, Sable, Gemsbok, Eland and Bushbuck.

While usually inoffensive in the wilds, Black and Blue Wildebeest may become aggressive and dangerous in captivity. When cornered, they will defend themselves courageously.

Roan, Sable and Gemsbok can be aggressive and dangerous when wounded or cornered. They will charge when approached too closely. Their sharp horns can cause serious injuries, and Gemsbok may even spear to death large predators, dogs or humans.

Bushbuck can be very dangerous when cornered or wounded, and have been known to kill Leopards, dogs and even humans.

Bushpigs

Bushpigs will not usually attack humans, but can be extremely aggressive if wounded or cornered, or when they have piglets.

Mosquitoes

Malaria is transmitted by the bite of an infective female anopheline mosquito. It occurs mainly in the summer and especially during years of good rainfall. Anti-malaria tablets should be taken before going into a potential malaria zone. In areas where malaria has become chloroquine-resistant, alternative drugs should be used. Pregnant women should avoid malarial areas.

Mosquitoes feed from dusk to the early hours of the morning. Camp on heights such as hills where a cool wind blows and where the grass is not very thick, away from standing water and not near densely vegetated areas at pans or rivers. Sleep under a mosquito net and use mosquito repellants. Fire and smoke help, and burning Elephant or cattle dung apparently drives mosquitoes away.

The symptoms appear approximately 12 days after the infective bite. Early symptoms include fever, chills, sweating and headache. Prompt treatment is essential even in mild cases, since irreversible complications may appear suddenly. If the early symptoms are not recognised, the victim may become critically ill with cerebral malaria.

Bilharzia

When visiting areas where Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis) is found, contact with contaminated water should be avoided. Bilharzia is found in shallow water that is stagnant or flowing slowly, along the banks of rivers, dams and pools, and especially where plants are growing in the water. If you wet yourself with contaminated water, clean yourself immediately by rigorously rubbing yourself dry with a cloth. The parasite may penetrate the skin within minutes. Contaminated water should be boiled or purified before being used for drinking or washing. Bilharzia infection can be severely debilitating and unpleasant and is not easily cured. In rare cases it can go to the brain, with lethal results. As the skin is penetrated, the first symptoms may be a skin reaction, although this may be mild or may not even show. Other symptoms include persistent fatigue, bodily discomfort, fever and vague intestinal complaints. If in doubt, a doctor should be consulted.

Tsetse-fly

The tsetse-fly, which transmits sleeping-sickness, has been virtually eliminated in southern Africa and only small populations exist. The fly can inflict a painful bite, and the symptoms of the disease, which include headache and a fever, develop after about two weeks.

Bees and wasps

With repeated exposure to stings, some people become hypersensitive, after which another sting could be much worse, if not fatal. People allergic to bee and wasp venoms should not wear floral-scented cosmetics or nail varnish. The solvent (amyl acetate) in nail varnish is the alarm pheromone of bees and provokes aggression. Don't wear brightly patterned clothes. If bees are about, remain calm and move slowly.

Ticks

Of the more than 70 viruses and disease-carrying organisms known to be carried by ticks, tick-borne relapsing fever, tick-bite fever, Q-fever and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, and tick-bite paralysis represent the best known and most important tick-borne disease conditions in humans.

To avoid being bitten by ticks, wear long trousers and boots, with your socks tucked up over your trousers. Rubbing paraffin on your legs or using various tick repellants may help prevent them getting on your skin, if possible, avoid long grass, or when walking along a path, avoid brushing against the tips of long grass stems as ticks usually sit on these tips waiting for an animal to walk past. When you have moved through long grass, inspect your body for ticks. Don't pull them off, since their heads may break off and remain underneath your skin. Burn them off with a cigarette, or smear them with vaseline, grease, commercial sealant, disinfectant or alcohol.

Tick-bite fever may develop about a week or two after the bite. The site of the bite may become swollen and red. The symptoms include listlessness, headache, fever and swollen glands.

The symptoms of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever include a sudden onset with fever, malaise, weakness, irritability, headache, severe pain in limbs and loins, and marked anorexia. Vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea occurs occasionally.

Soft ticks

The sand tampans live in sandy areas where shade is provided by trees or rock outcrops. They burrow beneath the surface of the sand, waiting for a potential host to rest in the shade. Humans are not very susceptible to the toxin but repeated bites over a period of time can result in hypersensitivity. If bitten again, hypersensitised individuals risk anaphylactic shock, which can result in death.

From A Field Guide to the Animal Tracks of Southern Africa by Louis Liebenberg