A recent elephant attack at the Kruger National Park left a motorist’s vehicle, and trip, wrecked. More recently, a lion climbed on a vehicle’s roof and casually knocked off the side mirror with its paw.
With winter being a popular time to take a bush break, motorists are urged not to get too close for comfort.
According to Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General Insurance: “While vehicle accidents in game reserves are extremely rare, we’ve had a few insurance claims for damage to vehicles caused by animal encounters.”
With this in mind, Auto & General advises motorists to adhere to park rules at all times for their own safety and for the safety of the animals. They have this advice:
- Be careful when passing animals or birds close to the road – they could be alarmed by your approach, and run into the road.
- Unless you’re in a designated area, remain inside your vehicle – No part of your body may protrude from a window or sunroof. Vehicle doors, windows, sunroof and convertibles should remain closed at all times.
According to Sipho Mkhwanazi, Regional Communications Manager at SANParks: If you happen to encounter an elephant or a breeding herd of elephants:
- Stay alert, especially 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. Take note of the elephant’s behaviour and keep a safe distance in your vehicle.
- Strict guidelines on how to behave near wild elephants:
- Do not drive off the road
- Do not follow the elephants
- Respect the elephant at all times
- Always allow the elephants the right of way
- Drive off slowly if they get too close
- Do not cut off their path, especially when more than one vehicle is present
“Most importantly, revving your vehicle’s engine or hooting is never a good idea. This may be seen as a challenge and your vehicle will no doubt come off second best,” concludes Coetzee.