Encountering Wild Animals on Your Travels

The Dangers of Wildlife

Every once in a while, you hear stories of people being mauled by wild animals being kept as pets: chimps, bears, tigers, etc... No matter how cute and cuddly they may look, it's important to remember that wild animals live on instinct, which don't always follow what we humans consider safe. On your travels, you might encounter wildlife and if wild animals can be dangerous when only one is being kept as a pet, imagine the danger a true wild animal can bring.

Animal Danger

  • Injury/Death by physical attacks
  • Spread of Disease (ex: rabies)
  • Dangerous fluids (ex: poison)

Interacting with Animals

Wild animals and humans aren't always so different. Like many people, creatures you encounter may not enjoy having their meal disturbed by camera flashes. Similarly, just as you wouldn't want someone interrupting you during your private moments, neither would an animal. It's important to give them space when they are eating, defecating, urinating, and even mating.

By John Haslam from Dornoch, Scotland [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By John Haslam from Dornoch, Scotland [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Animal Guides

Many conservation and parks have guides that will instruct you on the best routes for safely viewing nearb wildlife, teach you how close you can get to animals, and provide you advice on dealing with potential danger. It is highly recommended to seek such guides during any trip near wildlife.

Purchasing books about the wildlife in the areas you are traveling to, and reading them carefully before reaching your destination, can also be helpful.

By frank wouters from antwerpen, belgium , Belgi , Belgique (friendly boa) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By frank wouters from antwerpen, belgium , Belgi , Belgique (friendly boa) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source
By Barbarossa (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Barbarossa (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Safety Tips

Stay far away

The best tip is to stay a few yards away from any animal. You need a pretty sizable distance. This is especially true if you see a baby animal as a parent is possibly nearby and may consider you a threat to the baby animal.

Do not touch habitats

You wouldn't want someone trespassing in your home and touching your belongings and neither would they. If you happen to stumble near what looks like a habitat, such as a bird nest or an ant farm, pretend there's a "do not disturb" sign and leave the habitat alone. More importantly, other animals may know of these areas and come to them for hunting; you wouldn't want to become a prey.

Get a high-quality camera

Get a camera that can take great pictures with no flash and minimal (ideally no) sound.

Do not feed wild animals no matter how friendly.

One of my relatives had a friend who went on a safari-type adventure. Although she had been advised not to feed the animals, she couldn't resist feeding an adorable giraffe. Sadly, the giraffe thought she had more food and bit her hand. Thankfully, she didn't lose it as she was able to quickly get it back. However, the giraffe attempted to bite more through the open car window. This was a dangerous experience for both the human and the giraffe (as it almost hurt itself when she tried to close the car window)

If you have to feed a wild animal, do not feed from your hand. Put down food neither near you nor the animal; place a few feet away from the animal. The animal may not eat if it sees you are watching. This means you may need to step away.

Do not turn your back away from an attentive animal

Even if you are stepping away from a wild animal, especially one that has noticed you, you should not turn your back. Keep facing the animal and step backward. This way if the animal attacks, you can still use your hands and feet to defend yourself. If you turn away, you may not be able to and this means your neck will be left vulnerable to potentially life-threatening attacks.

By Keven Law from Los Angeles, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keven Law from Los Angeles, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Size Doesn't Matter

Don't think that just because an animal is small that it means the risk of danger is any less. Even small animals such as squirrels and raccoons will attack you when they feel threatened. Other small wildlife, from innocent looking insect, plants, and exotic furry creatures will react the same.


What to do in case of an animal attack

The Curl Ball

  1. Lower yourself
  2. Curl yourself in a ball-like position (feet still on ground)
  3. Use hands and arms to protect neck and head as best as you can
  4. Keep gaps closed

An animal might give up on killing you if it has difficulty biting you. The curl will provide difficulty.

Playing Dead

We all know that playing dead is an option. However, playing dead can leave many vital body parts open for attack. It is still an option, but be wary that if the animal is already enraged, it will want to "check" your death by attacking limbs and/or the head.

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Comments 4 comments

craftybegonia profile image

craftybegonia 5 years ago from Southwestern, United States

My uncle worked for Fish and Game for 28 years and you are so right about the danger! He told me lots of stories and I know you are right. I love nature, cautiously.


Lyn.Stewart profile image

Lyn.Stewart 5 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

thank you we don't have dangerous animals in new zealand. about the worst we have are jellyfish or sharks. although the kea's will strip your car if you leave it unattended while you take pictures lol.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

This is a very good hub! We need to remember to respect wild animals and their ways. As interest in ecotourism increases around the world, we need to increase our level of understanding of wild animals.

Thank you for your reminder! Up and awesome.


Suelynn profile image

Suelynn 4 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

I love your awareness of wildlife and the concepts of safety and respect for the animals. You speak to my own love of conservation. Thanks for a really interesting article. Voting up! :)

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