Know the rules when viewing pachyderms (South Africa)

Dec 18, 2019 | News

By Charl Pienaar – Lowvelder

The Kruger National Park (KNP) attracts thousands of tourists each year, who wish to view the infamous Big 5.

To have a solid grasp on the general South African National Parks (SANParks) rules applicable to viewing elephants in the park, will ensure an uninterrupted and safe journey.

According to SANParks’ Twitter feed, there is an inherent danger associated to breeding herds; therefore care should be taken when approaching elephant breeding herds with small calves. The matriarch or members from the herd can become aggressive, especially when small calves feel threatened by your presence. Keep a safe distance and stay in your car.

Musth bulls which can be quite aggressive at times are identified by the constant passing of small amounts of very strong urine on the ground and hind legs. They leave a characteristic trail of urine on the roads which they traverse on. The bulls’ temporal glands will also exude a dark liquid which is visible between the ear holes and eyes. It is advisable to avoid them and keep a safe distance at all times.

The following regulations should be followed on how to behave near wild elephants:

  • Do not drive off the designated route and into the bush
  • Do not follow the elephants especially if they have calves with them
  • Respect the elephants at all times; you are a visitor in their territory
  • Always allow the elephants the right of way
  • Drive off slowly if they get too near
  • Do not cut off their path, especially when more than one vehicle is present
  • Do not rev your engine near elephants. If they feel threatened they will attack.

One of the most important rules to adhere to is not to speed in the park. Lowvelder recently reported on November 10, how a giraffe was struck by a taxi driver who was allegedly speeding, killing the animal on impact, according to an eyewitness account.

Ike Phaahla, communications manager for the KNP, confirmed that tourist monitors and traffic police have been instructed to have zero tolerance with traffic offenders.

“Appropriate speeding fines will be issued by officials. We will recommission traffic cameras, which were out of order for a period, on November 18. It is important to mention that drivers and tourists must change their attitudes and observe the speed limits imposed in the park. Remember that you are a guest in their territory and they don’t know what a vehicle is,” he said.