Nature and Wildlife—Do's & Don'ts in Botswana

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It is essential to behave properly near wild animals, to respect the environment and avoid potentially dangerous situations. If you are camping on safari for the first time you may feel some anxiety by the possibility of elephants, lion, hyenas, or other animals roaming freely around the campsite.

This does take some getting used to, and your first reaction may be to flee. It would be wise to discuss the best reaction response to an aggressive animal encounter with an experienced guide or animal expert—preferably before you are out on safari. Different behavior is recommended for different animals, and it is important to get it right. However, in the unlikely event of an animal becoming aggressive towards you, do not panic, but do stay calm and keep quiet. Whatever you do, don't run.

When visiting or staying in the animals' habitat, remember these rules:

  • Always sleep in your tent or vehicle. Make sure your tent zips up completely.
  • Do not sleep with legs or arms protruding from the tent.
  • Carry away or burn all rubbish. Many areas do not have rubbish disposal facilities.
  • Cigarette butts should be well extinguished and placed in a rubbish bag, not thrown out.
  • Make sure the campfire is well extinguished at the end of the evening, and cover it with sand.
  • Bury all fecal matter and burn all toilet paper.
  • In most parks and reserves you should camp in designated camping areas where basic amenities are provided. Outside the parks, reserves, and wildlife management areas, you are free to camp anywhere you like.
  • Do not sleep on bridges or animal paths, particularly those of elephant or hippo.
  • Do not bathe in or drink from still bodies of water, as there is the danger of bilharzias.
  • In the Okavango, it is tempting to dive into a lagoon or stream, especially after a hot, dusty drive. This is forbidden. Not to mention there is the obvious danger of crocodiles or hippo.
  • Do not go near the water at night. If you want to wash or refresh yourself it is best to go to the water with another person. Have him or her stand near you and be on the lookout while you wash. Watch out for eyes or nostrils protruding from the water.
  • Be wary of animals with young. Never feed the animals or try to touch them. The feeding of monkeys, baboons, and mongoose at various campsites has led to these animals' atrocious, and at times aggressive, harassing behavior.
  • In the Okavango and Chobe, where animal density is high, do not stray far from the campsite or walk in the bush unless you are accompanied by an experienced guide.

Content provided by Botswana Tourism Board – North America

Published: 4 Sep 2009 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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