How Not to Get Eaten by a Crocodile
Trip Start Sep 09, 2013
24Trip End Dec 16, 2013
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The Ezemvalo Wildlife tourist board has put together a few words of advice for anybody visiting the park, part of which is quoted here:
"Never dangle your legs, toes, backside or any other part of your anatomy in the water... A crocodile is unable to distinguish what is acceptable prey and what is not. All it sees is food, bikini-clad or not, it is all the same to the crocodile."
That certainly gave us pause for a nervous chuckle
Next we headed to Imfolozi Game Reserve, the oldest national park in South Africa (second oldest in the world behind Yellowstone). Though it is dwarfed in size my the more famous Kruger National Park, it offers everything (in terms of wildlife) that Kruger does, as well as cheaper and perhaps more intimate safaris. After a bleary eyed pre-dawn departure from our hostel, we were in the park at the break of day and within moments had our first elephant sighting. Lions, rhinos, giraffes and water buffalo soon followed.
For a Canadian, it was difficult in the moment to truly apprehend what I was witnessing - these massive and exotic creatures from my childhood storybooks, like scenes from National Geographic - yet here they were, so close I could hear them breathe, smell them, see the colour of their eyes (with the exception of the lions, we didn't get THAT close)
The saddest story from Imfolozi is the losing battle being waged for rhino conservation. Poachers slaughter hundreds of these wonderful creatures, solely for their horns, every year in the park, in spite of armed patrols designed to stop the practice. Outside the park, a rhino 'cemetery' has been erected to try and draw attention to the fact that 600 rhinos were killed in 2012. In 2013, the numbers read 862. There is an insatiable desire for rhino horn in east Asia, and a desperate need for cash in Africa. Conservation, our guide says, "is a First World issue," and it is a clash of cultures that will never easily be resolved.
In the mean time, we are thankful and humbled by our wild life experience in this little corner of Africa. We are thankful to the nations and the people who try, sometimes against all odds, to save and preserve the magnificent wild heritage of the African continent. We certainly do not want to be eaten by crocodiles, but of course crocs are not the problem. People are.