Africa

Friday Sound-Off: Are Walking Safaris Safe?

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With poaching becoming an increasing problem and animals being forced into smaller-and-smaller areas, the animals in Africa are becoming more stressed.

He did everything right.  When Quinn Swales, a professional guide at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, lead a group of tourists on a walking safari within the park, he knew exactly what he was doing.  Yet, even doing everything right did not save him.

When Quinn Swales and his group ran into a pride of lions within Hwange National Park, Quinn relied on his experience to protect his clients.  When a large male lion got up and started to approach his group, he told them not to run, but to stand behind him.  Running would only trigger the lion’s predatory instincts, and you can’t out run a lion.

He then set off a “bear banger”, which is a noise maker that makes a sound as loud as a gun shot.  It appeared to work at first, as the lion seemed to back off.  However, fate would not be that kind to Quinn, as the lion quickly doubled back and attacked him.  Sadly, Quinn Swales later died from his injuries.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just an isolated incident.  There have been a number of fatalities in recent years.  We have included a list below of some other stories of tragedy on walking safari in Africa.

There has been a lot of talk in the past decade about how safe walking safaris really are.  In most countries in Africa, guides are not allowed to carry guns on walking safaris.  Poaching is still a big issue in Africa, and keeping guns outside of the parks should be a top priority.  This means that clients are reliant upon the skill and experience of their guides to keep them safe while walking in the African bush.

However, for some tourists, they are looking for the ultimate adventure.  Seeing the magnificent animals of Africa from a vehicle is great, but being able to get out and venture into the wilderness on foot, to put yourself into the environment with the animals as an observer, is the ultimate wildlife viewing experience.

But are these walking tours really what is best for the viewers and the animals?  With poaching becoming an increasing problem and animals being forced into smaller-and-smaller areas, the animals in Africa are becoming more stressed.  Should we really be adding to that stress?

We would like to hear your thoughts.  Should walking safaris be allowed?  Is it worth the risk to take a walking safari?

 

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5 replies »

  1. I think people should not take such risks at all. It’s unfortunate what happens but we all need to remember the animals are wild and not domesticated. So why take the risk?

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