Dos and don'ts while planning a wildlife safari

Do's and don'ts while planning a wildlife safari
Dressing appropriately during a safari is crucial to enjoy it | Photo: IANS

Respect the jungle. And be practical, not fashionable when you are on a wildlife excursion. "That's the basic," says Manjunath Gowda, Chief Executive Officer of WildTrails, as he narrates the rules to follow both before and during a wildlife safari.

Planning the trip

Making plans for a wildlife safari in haste is never a good idea. Ideally, every journey to a wildlife sanctuary should be planned at least 4 to 5 months in advance. This is because there are relatively few wildlife sanctuaries. So unless reservations are made well in advance by parties, they may find it impossible to find lodgings at all.

Bookings are also important to find a place on safaris at a reserve. In practice, it is best to book a safari even before making reservations for lodgings because people book the former well before they book a place to stay.

It's also important to research the reserve or sanctuary being visited because no two sanctuaries are the same. The terrain, flora, and fauna in different reserves vary making it necessary for visitors to prepare themselves accordingly beforehand.

A visit to a wildlife sanctuary is meant to be memorable and all visitors expect to capture pictures of themselves and their families on safari. This means they should either carry a DSLR camera or rent one. Visitors should also carry a pair of binoculars to seen birds and animals up close. It's important to note that no smartphone, however sophisticated, is a substitute for a DSLR. Furthermore, many safaris don't allow visitors to carry mobile phones thus making a DSLR all the more essential.

Dressing appropriately during a safari is crucial to enjoying it. Ideally, visitors should wear earthy clothes that make them blend into their backdrop. Dressing in such clothes increases the likelihood of sighting more birds and animals as people wearing earthy colours blend with the surrounding terrain, making them less likely to irk wildlife.

It's important to be excited about going on a wildlife safari, yet visitors should temper the expectation that they will see big animals and flocks of birds up close throughout a safari. A safari is not a zoo as animals in sanctuaries roam freely and seeing them often depends on chance. Doing research will help improve the chances of spotting animals and birds visitors want to see. Good research reveals where, when, and at what time of the day, a particular species of bird or animal was spotted last. Those who plan their visits using such information improve their chances of spotting animals they researched.

Research about where and when animals are being spotted should be done before even booking a safari or lodgings. This is because using information about what kinds of animals are being spotted regularly in different sanctuaries, visitors can plan their visit to sanctuaries, where the kinds of animals and birds they most want to see have been sighted most.

Do's and Don'ts while planning wildlife safari

While research plays an important part in increasing the likelihood of sightings, having an expert tracker increases the likelihood even further. A good tracker will make accurate predictions about where to find animals using their alarm calls, pugmarks, smells and scats.

While in the wild

During a safari, excitement levels among tourists peak and when they sight animals they were dying to see, some feel tempted to get up close and take selfies with them. This should never be attempted, because animals in sanctuaries are wild and may attack people who try to take selfies with them. Selfies with wild animals should only be taken from approved and respectable distances.

Some visitors may feel tempted to feed wild animals, however like taking selfies; this too is fraught with danger. Furthermore, while those feeding animals may believe they are helping animals. In reality doing so leads to the transmission of diseases and increases the likelihood that animals will suffer injuries. Also, animals may become accustomed to being fed by people and when not presented with food direct their hostility at them.

It's also important to remain silent during a safari, loud noises scare animals away. Finally, visitors should never discard trash during a safari because it harms a sanctuary's ecology and animals that live in them.

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