Wildlife Safety Abroad

Most countries are pretty safe to visit, especially when it comes to package tours. Start exploring the wilderness, go backpacking or camping and the chances of encountering the local wildlife increases; in some countries, this will pose a risk to personal safety as well as to the wildlife itself. Having a little awareness of the precautions to take when encountering less than friendly wild animals, reptiles and insects, as well as potentially dangerous plant life, is both sensible and possibly life-saving.

Even the safest of countries have wildlife that is best left alone. The UK countryside is one of the safest places to explore but there are areas where holidaymakers as well as locals will come across adders who can give a nasty bite, often requiring medical assistance. There are no spiders native to the UK that can kill a human but there are some which may cause illness should they bite, and wasps, hornets and other insects can give a painful sting without repercussions.

Wildlife Rules for Staying Safe

Wildlife experts recommend that a safe distance be kept from any form of wildlife. Use binoculars and watch from a distance, and if any aggressive creature is encountered, back away slowly without turning your head. Predators chase prey that runs, so do not invite an attack. Never feed wild animals as this not only encourages them to seek out humans for food but it can affect their survival ability. When camping in wild areas store food high up or in your car and avoid setting up camp along game trails or popular water sources.

Avoid swimming in any water where dangerous wildlife may live. The Australian outback is home to both fresh and saltwater crocodiles, which have been known to attack people and pets, and travel as fast on land as they do in water. Avoid areas where there may be breeding seals as these can become protective over their young and have been known to attack pets. And of course, observe all warnings on beaches where there may be sharks or other dangerous sea creatures. Jellyfish deliver a painful sting that can sometimes be fatal, especially to the young and the elderly.

What to Avoid

Australia is renowned for some particularly nasty and venomous spiders, particularly the red-back spider, and the funnel-web spider. Experts advise shaking out shoes before putting them on, not walking barefoot and avoiding leaving clothing or towels lying outside. Many Asian and African countries have a dangerous insect population and these rules apply to avoid bites and contact with creatures like scorpions and lizards, as well venomous snakes.

Within Asia, there are dangerous tigers, snakes, and spiders, which should be avoided at all costs. Africa has lions, crocodiles, and hippos that may attack and kill if disturbed. America is home to bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes; all best avoided if possible. However, the biggest killer of humans in the world is the lowly mosquito, with the potential to be carrying a deadly disease.

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