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Health and Safety

 

HEALTH and SAFETY:

MEDICAL AND AIR EVACUATION INSURANCE.

There are a number of insurance companies offering excellent cover. Just make sure that the sums of money are sufficient to cover essentials such as air evacuation and repatriation if needed. The difficulties are obtaining cover for any adventure pursuits and cover for self-drive solo travel into isolated areas with minimal facilities. Many companies require a reapplication for cover every three months. Be sure to read the fine print, exclusions, excesses and financial limits. Be sure to spell out in detail the circumstances of your trip and the countries to be visited.

Our medical insurance covers the first three months free of charge via SOS International. Thereafter after careful research I regard AIG via Travel Guard as providing the best cover. They are one of the few prepared to cover for a full calendar year. The AIG full cover cost R11.800 for the two of us.

INOCULATIONS. This will depend on individual choice. Yellow Fever is compulsory for a number of countries. I think it is safest to attend your nearest Travel Clinic and take their advice, rather over-innoculate. The medical facilities within Africa, although not to first world standards, are surprisingly good for common African ailments. You just do not want to spoil your trip with illnesses and prevention is best.

We have had the following inoculations (All injections except the Cholera): These are not cheap, prices quoted in ZAR per dose from a travel clinic.

◾Yellow Fever. Already received in 2012, valid for 10 years. Not suitable if immunocompromised or after a certain age (65 years mostly, but at your and the clinic’s own discretion). If not given you will need a medical certificate of exemption. Cost R450.

◾Hepatitis A & B. Twinrix. An initial dose followed by boosters after one and then five months (or perhaps a little earlier). Cost R324 X 3.

◾Rabies. Verorab. An initial dose followed by two boosters after one week and one month. Cost R480 X 3.

◾Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Pertussis. Boostrix Tetrol. Valid for 10 years. Cost R350.

◾Typhoid. Valid for 3 years. Cost R285.

◾Meningococcal Meningitis. (Both African strains). Valid for 3 years. Cost R760.

◾Cholera and ETEC. Dukoral. Oral. Only moderately effective but worth receiving. Two doses, second after 1-2 weeks. Must be taken on empty stomach. Cost R424 X 2.

The current influenza strain inoculation at time of leaving is also a consideration.

TOTAL COST R5105, about US$500. It is as well to begin these about 3 to 6 months beforehand as some are a series of up to 3 shots spaced over time for maximal effectiveness.

DRINKING WATER.

I bought the simple, small, hand-operated Katadyne Combi water filter with spares, purchased from Camp and Climb in Cape Town, (cost R 2125; US$ 230, not cheap). This has both a micro filter and activated carbon filter. I also have Aqua Salveo (Silver) drops to add to purify water as well and will carry plenty of Milton to add to water for washing down fruit and veggies. We would like to avoid “Gippo guts” if at all possible. Remember to beware of ice as this is most often made from local water. It is probably never safe to drink water from the taps without purifying it, even in urban centers. We also plan to eat local food as far as possible, cooked food should be fine. Ice cream is notorious for causing food poisoning.

MEDICAL KIT.

I will provide links to appropriate sites covering this and other problems further on in this blog.

Being a doctor I carry a very comprehensive supply of commonly used prescription medications, as well as emergency drugs and equipment. This is mainly in anticipation of being asked for assistance or feeling obliged to help others. This includes some surgical instruments for suturing and cleaning wounds, local anaesthetic, syringes and needles, major painkillers, intravenous cannulas and fluids.

The most common medical problems to provide for are in my opinion-

  • Diarrhoea, either from contaminated food or water. Campylobacter, Giardia, Amoebiasis, food poisoning, Typhoid or even Cholera are also possibilities. We carry Rehydration sachets and antibiotics in the form of Metronidazole and Ciprofloxacin. We also carry Probiotics.
  • Burns; carry some form of gel burn dressings and antiseptic cream as well as gauze and bandages. I use Bactroban.
  • Soft tissue infections and injuries. These are very common in the tropics. Carry a selection of plasters, bandages, antiseptic solutions, antibiotics such as Augmentin or Cloxacillin. (Beware penicillin allergy).
  • Females are very liable to gynae fungal infections, carry appropriate topical applications.
  • Urinary infections, Ciprofloxacin will cover most.
  • Tickbite Fever, very common, covered by the antibiotic Doxycycline.
  • Pain tablets, paracetamol and perhaps something stronger containing codeine. Have a proper dental checkup, beginning some months before departure.
  • Allergic reactions. Cortisone and antihistamines. Prednisone. Also antihistamine topical applications for itchy bites.

MALARIA:

We will be taking anti-malarial prophylaxis for the entire trip in the form of Malorone (Malanil). This is widely available and as there are generics available in most African countries it may be cheaper to buy there. Just remember that you have to start your course 1-2 days before entering a malaria area, so make sure you start taking the prophylaxis early enough. This prophylactic is as effective as any of the others and has very few side effects. We will have mosquito nets and these and our clothing will be impregnated with Permethrin. We will apply plenty of mosquito repellant to our skin and will try to be wise with wearing long trousers and long sleeves at night in high risk areas. I find this is easier said than done in the heat of Africa. We will have malaria test kits which I know how to use and will take a supply of Coartem to take as an emergency measure until we can urgently reach a facility for diagnostic malaria blood slides. Malorone has the additional advantage of being able to be used as emergency treatment for malaria as well. See the package insert for the dosages required. There are clinics with this expertise throughout the malaria areas of Africa. Malaria can rapidly become a medical emergency and readers are advised to regard any possible attack as needing urgent same day treatment if at all possible. We all know the common symptoms of headache, cold shivers and fever but there are also less common presentations such as diarrhea, vomiting, simple malaise, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. If the first malaria test is negative persist with testing on at least a daily basis until either you are better or the illness has resolved. The best diagnostic test is the microscopic examination of a blood slide under the microscope.

Sleeping sickness from tsetse fly bites is so rare (outside the Democratic Republic of the Congo and isolated West African destinations) as to not be a consideration in my opinion.

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES.

Malaria is something I am appropriately paranoid about. The applicable phrase “a fever tonight, dead tomorrow”, grabs my attention. Malaria is endemic in much of Tropical Africa below 2,000m in altitude. Prophylaxis and measures to prevent mosquito bites are obligatory. I suggest you have a look at my post here, I think it has as much detail as you should require http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/showthread.php?t=87950

Whilst at this site have a look at the suggested contents of a first aid kit, see here http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/showthread.php?t=90919

For a short precis of basic emergency first aid procedures in the bush http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/showthread.php?t=125864

For management of soft tissue injuries and infections common in the tropics, see here http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/showthread.php?t=100390

There are various other threads for overland vehicular travel to be found on this site http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=148

OTHER MEDICAL PROBLEMS.

The chances of a life or limb threatening snake bite are absolutely minimal. It is advised not to carry snake bite antiserum for a variety of sound medical reasons. If a snake bite should occur, expeditiously transport the victim, lying flat, to the nearest medical facility. Do not apply a tourniquet as it most often does more harm than good and do not cut/suck on the bite. The vast majority of African snakebites are not life threatening. More common are scorpion stings. Scorpions are common in arid areas and as they mainly emerge at night, it is advisable to wear closed shoes in camp after sunset. Thus said, very few scorpions are venomous enough to be life threatening, the sting is just extremely painful for a few hours. As a rule of thumb the more venomous scorpions will have smaller pincers and a larger tail/sting. Very few people in Africa die or come to serious harm from scorpion or even spider bites.  

SECURITY:

Being a South African I am not overly concerned about security north of our borders. We have plenty of fairly sophisticated crime at home so we, I hope, are naturally alert to risky situations. Urban crime exists throughout the world and tourists stick out like sore thumbs and are easy targets. One will just have to be careful in the larger cities like Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa, Addis and Cairo and avoid dodgy areas at night and carry money securely. Our vehicle is pretty secure with all the attached overland kit locked on with padlocks and internally we have lockable drawers and an alarm system as well as a vehicle safe and hidden secure compartments. One of us will always stay with the vehicle when parked in potentially insecure urban situations. We have experienced no crime at all in the rural African areas in our neighboring states but are very aware of the temptations of pilfering in these relatively impoverished areas. Important documents will be stored securely with the money and we have certified copies of all the relevant documents, which we will use instead of the originals wherever possible. Spare vehicle and other keys are stored in a hidden compartment on the outside of the vehicle. We also have anti smash-and-grab protective plastic coating to all the windows. When driving in crowded urban areas it is important to keep all doors locked and windows closed to prevent smash and grab opportunities.

The biggest danger to personal safety is other vehicles on the road and the condition of the roads. This we cannot change but will endeavor to cover relatively short daily distances and will try our utmost to avoid being on the road in the dark. Animals and people are as much of a risk as other vehicles.

A consideration as well is the various areas of political instability. Al Shabab on the northern Kenyan coast near Somalia are a factor and their activities are escalating. We probably will be far from the western areas where Boko Haram are active. It seems like the shiftas and tribal conflicts towards Northern Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan are rather quiet at present. We will also need to keep an eye on political developments in Egypt. We will be travelling with a short-wave vehicle radio and will tune into the BBC African service for updates. Ebola is not thus far a consideration on our route and I am confident the situation will remain unchanged.

We anticipate higher risks from people than animals but have had some hairy experiences with animals in Southern Africa when bush camping in wildlife conservation areas. We will carry some pepper spray to repel unwanted visitors, human or animal, if really pushed to the wire. For marauding baboons and monkeys in camp, we have a catapult. All food and utensils will be stored in the vehicle at night when camping amongst wild animals. Feeding wild animals creates nuisance animals and leads to the need for their elimination.

To keep in touch with current events in Africa we have purchased a second-hand Sony SW7600GR short wave radio via a contact and radio expert. He assures me that this is the Land Cruiser of short wave radios. We will then be able to tune into stations like the BBC African and World services, even in the most isolated of places. When we have internet it appears that http://allafrica.com/ is the best site for general African news.

We also have a satellite phone, the IsatPhone pro from Zippisat www.zippisat.com. They are based in Stellenbosch and are very efficient. The phone sells at R7000 or approximately US$800. The expense lies in the airtime which is bought from them online and they upload it for you. It also has messaging, voicemail and email facilities and is served by the Immersat satellite system. If we strike big trouble in an isolated place this will be our lifeline. We have previously had cause to use it when marooned in the Kalahari in Botswana. This phone is worthless without emergency contact numbers.

WATER. Some will always utilize bottled water for drinking but the costs of this mount up. To avoid attacks of diarrhea and vomiting it is wiser for most to boil domestic water and perhaps even pass it through a micro and chemical filter. We have a small hand operated Katadyne filter and will certainly use it on all water not from domestic sources. We will also carry water purifying chemicals available over the counter in outdoor shops and will also boil. Beware of ice in drinks as this is the most common reason for ingesting contaminated water. We have a large 50l water tank fitted in the vehicle and will use this for shower and washing up water, storing the drinking water separately. All fruit and veggies eaten raw must be washed and peeled before eating. We carry Na hypochlorite in the form of Milton, which we use diluted to wash these foods. Faecal contamination of water and food is the main danger leading to the high incidence of Hepatitis and all the tropical dysenteries. Hygiene practices may not always be up to scratch.

Some will be conscious of the risk of contacting the parasitical disease of Bilharzia from swimming in infected fresh water. It is best to consider most of the lakes and rivers to be infected, particularly in highly populated areas close to the shore. Often resorts will play down the risks. Whilst not prepared to take stupid risks, I certainly intend snorkeling and even swimming in Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika, away from highly populated areas. One has to maintain a perspective here. Bilharzia is not a severe life-threatening illness and is very effectively treated with a single course of tablets. The earliest symptoms are unexplained tiredness, later there may be traces of blood in the urine. It is tested for with a simple blood test and if in doubt take the short course of tablets of Biltracide (Praziquantal). Many automatically do this on returning home. I would certainly not allow the specter of Bilharzia to inhibit my enjoyment of the lakes and rivers too much. The risks posed by crocs and hippos are another issue altogether. Be very wary of approaching too close to the water’s edge where crocodiles are prevalent, they appear out of nowhere. Malaria in comparison, is a far more likely and more serious illness.

DANGEROUS WILD ANIMALS.

In some areas, especially the game reserves, you will be camping amongst potentially dangerous wild animals. I consider this a priveledge. It must be emphasized that any incidents involving travelers are exceptionally rare. The potentially most dangerous animals speak for themselves, namely lions, elephant, hyenas, hippos, crocs and buffalo. Especially at night one can have unexpected encounters with these animals and they can react violently if they feel under threat or if surprised. Use common sense and never venture alone too far from your vehicle or tent. A fire does not really repel them despite popular belief. Shining a bright light and shouting or banging are moderately effective deterrents for animals that approach too closely. Never run away from a lion or you will stimulate its hunting instincts. It is best to seek refuge in your nearby vehicle or securely zipped up tent if you feel unsafe. No African wild animal has ever successfully breached a securely zipped up tent as far as I am aware. In wild camps in dangerous predator territory, always have your motor vehicle parked close by as this will provide a safe refuge in the fairly rare event of a potentially dangerous encounter.

By all means apply the following precautions to avoid trouble. Be sure to pack away all your food and even cooking utensils in the vehicle and not your tent. You do not want to attract undue attention to the tent due to food odors emanating from it. Fruit, especially citrus, could lead to an elephant dismantling your tent or vehicle to gain access to these delicacies. Do not be tempted to feed the animals as they become dangerously habituated and would most likely have to be shot by the staff in the reserve. Monkeys and baboons are the problems by day and soon become accomplished thieves around campsites, so do not leave food outside the vehicle or any windows open. I carry a catapult to repel them in problem campsites. In fact it is an excellent habit not to leave any goods lying around in camp as animals may damage them, especially at night. Many is the pair of favorite (smelly) bush footwear that has been devoured by hyenas. Languid lions become mischievous and inquisitive menaces by night.

These excerpts are from a trip report of ours after trips to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana in 2011 and 2014. To place the first in context, Anne and I were camping alone in a ground tent in this very isolated area. The closest humans were about 5km away, also lone campers, and other than that about 50km away on a single dirt track, were the nearest game rangers.

“This proved to be a night that would be etched into our memories forever. It is a characteristic of human nature that we tend to laugh at the misfortune of others. Probably because we are only too grateful that is not ourselves on the receiving end. Picture the reaction of commentators, team members, spectators and even umpires when a batsman is struck in the groin by a cricket ball. Likewise, please enjoy your laugh at our night of terror during our second night at Sunday pan. Anne and I also laugh about it now.

On this night the lion pride started calling at dusk, even closer to our camp. There also appeared to be more of them. Later in the evening it started raining which seemed to shut them up. I had decided to forgo my normal few beers around the campfire as a precaution and we retired at about 22h00. The rain must have stopped during the night and the lions began roaring again adjacent to the camp, waking me. At about 2h30 I quickly nipped out of the tent for a leak despite restricting the beers, thank goodness! Although it was full moon the cloud cover made the night fairly dark. I had hardly dozed off when the tent poles holding up the front awning of the tent fell over with a clang awaking us, followed by the snarl of a startled lion right at the front door. LIONS IN THE CAMP!!!!

This was followed by a bout of simultaneous roaring from all the lions around our tent, absolutely deafening. Neither of us made a sound although my blood had turned to ice in my veins and my guts to jelly. A primeval fear best likened to that of a caveman in his cave, cowering away from the sabre-tooth tigers, overcame me. I was getting heart palpitations. I thought my heart was going to pound right out of my chest when this was again followed again by a sustained bout of roaring from all corners right around our tent. This was repeated on a number of occasions over the next few very long hours. As I described later to Anne, the noise was like sitting inside a church organ at full volume. My whole inner being quaked in terror. I defy anyone else to have felt any differently. The roars seemed to be coming from at least 4 adult lions, with the very deep tones suggesting 2 of them were males. Have you ever seen how big the Kalahari males are?

We lay as quiet as mice trying to hide on our stretchers within our sleeping bags. It was all I could do to stop hyperventilating. We obviously did not sleep a wink not even daring to whisper to one another, that is how close they were!

The collapsed awning was partially covering the zipped-up gauze front entrance, but we could dimly see the lions moving about the front of the tent. I did not realize that Anne had earlier dropped the canvas covers over the side windows when it had started raining and nearly had a coronary when a huge dim shadow fell across my window accompanied by a prolonged loud snuffling as one of the adult lions was sniffing at our scent from the window. It sounded like a gigantic bull-mastiff. It then moved to Anne’s side and did the same, even leaning against her and the side wall of the tent, causing Anne to shoot away from the tent side as if scalded. It was then evident that some large cubs were present when they roughly and noisily started playing with each other and running round and round the tent bumping into the guy-ropes repeatedly, causing the tent to sway alarmingly. I have the good camp habit of packing everything away into the vehicle before retiring and was pleased we obeyed the dictum of never storing food in the tent. I however had left our spare braai-grid stored in one of those plastic “hessian” type bags, jammed well above head height in the fork of one of the trees. The cubs somehow got hold of this and then followed a tug of war over it, backing into the tent wall at times. This was accompanied by the blood curdling sound effects of the bag being torn and ripped apart. We later searched but could find no sign of the bag or grid in or around the camp. I had also left a small bottle of liquid hand soap on a table and they chewed this up. They then started gnawing very audibly on the collapsed tent poles and the following morning we found that they had chewed the plastic caps off the bottom of these poles. All these sound effects in such close proximity were quite frankly terrifying. The cubs would intermittently stop their boisterous play and peer under the collapsed front awning as if trying to see us through the gauze front entrance. With their rough play I was worried that they would inadvertently tear the tent and then who knows? We are well aware of the fact/myth that no-one has ever been harmed by lions when zipped up securely in a tent. I did not want to prove to be the exception to the rule. Conventional wisdom has it that lions see the tent to be a solid structure. They are unable to perceive how easy it would be for them to get into a tent. I think we thoroughly tested this theory that night. We had the lions roaring in unison right in our ears on about nine occasions altogether. Our vehicle was not accessible being about 10m away because of the shade trees.

We of course could not sleep a wink through all this. At one stage I lit a cigarette to Anne’s disapproval. Poor Anne had an even more miserable time as her bladder was bursting. This may seem like a long story but the lions fiddled around our tent until 06h30 when they eventually moved off as daylight arrived. The siege lasted 3 and a half hours! The tracks around our tent and camp bear testimony to the circus that went on. My real question is why these lions felt so secure in our camp? Conventionally lions are expected to fear and avoid human scent, whereas this pride was aggressively curious and mischievous. They seem to be semi-habituated which I think is a dangerous situation. I hope they are not being drawn to camps by people purposely or inadvertently leaving food lying around camp. There are stories of people doing this in Kgalagadi leading to lions being a nuisance in camp. What is a solution then? I have always been a dyed in the wool ground tent supporter, but there is no doubt we would have felt safer in a rooftop tent. Banging metal together and making a noise to scare off the lions has been suggested. I think this would have had the opposite effect in this instance, arousing further inquisitiveness. This pride was really hyped up. Pepper spray or Taser guns have been suggested but it would take real balls to deploy these effectively. By the time one could make this sort of close contact with this many lions I think it would be too late. In Canada campers employ explosives known as bear bombs very effectively. The next time I am in an unfenced camp in lion country I will have a pack of the biggest firecrackers money can buy. Many of us have had lions pass through or close to our camps, but I hope we never have to experience such a brazen siege again. Anne and I now of course laugh about this experience and you can imagine the relish with which Anne relates this saga to her coffee shop and book club friends. Experiences like this really add spice to a trip but make one realize what a small insignificant speck of life you are. We were left wiser but definitely not sadder.”

Here is another encounter with a lion in our camp in the same Kalahari game reserve 3 years later.

“I was still reading at 21H00, a time when we would often still be up and about in camp, when I clearly heard something brushing firmly against the front grill of the vehicle. Lions in camp again? Some of you will recall my report of being terrorized by a pride of lions in camp for 3 hours at Sunday 02 campsite in 2011. Was this going to happen again? At least we were now in a roof top tent and I felt far less vulnerable than I had in a ground tent. Even then, the thought of lions in your camp is enough to set your heart racing and here we were all alone in camp again!

I was peering out when a solitary lioness appeared next to the vehicle. She moved around within the camp as if she owned it and did not seem concerned at all by all the scent of humans she must have been picking up. Lions really are masters of the night. She immediately moved across to where our chairs and table setup were. The clouds had vanished and we could see clearly in the moonlight. She then began investigating our camp furniture. My heart sank when she moved to the periphery of the camp and picked up our mobile toilet in her jaws and holding it aloft like a puppy retrieving a ball, headed 20m into the surrounding bush and dropped it with a clatter. The scary thing was the absolute silence with which this big cat moved about. If we were still up and about, the first time we would have been aware of her presence was when we saw her right next to us. From her confident behavior I am certain that she would have waltzed into camp whether we were up and about or not. What would then have transpired I really cannot state with any certainty. Can any of us predict our reaction if we looked up to suddenly find a lion next to us? I think any sudden moves or noise would evoke aggression from the lion. I find it absolutely amazing to think that with the confident sort of camp invasion I was witnessing, more people are not taken out by lions.

Our visitor was far from finished and was really behaving as if she was completely familiar with wandering about a campsite. Next she moved to our metal camp table and it fell over with a loud crash as she clambered onto it with her front paws. On it was our gas bottle and cooker head and a sturdy 20l plastic jerry can type water container, the type with a tap. She could obviously smell the water and with a sinking hearts we could hear the loud sounds of her biting repeatedly into it. Then followed sounds of her lapping up the water as it leaked from the holes she had easily bitten through its thick wall. The sounds of her very rough tongue as she licked the plastic surface were as loud as if someone was applying a rasp to its surface. This was all happening not 10m from us. I must say that I felt absolutely safe lying in the RTT observing her actions. I had taken Anne’s point and shoot camera up into the tent precisely for this sort of photographic opportunity. I had even set it onto the correct modes with the flash activated. By this time I had completely unzipped the gauze of the front entrance of the tent to Anne’s hissed displeasure and in low tones was trying to persuade her to hold the beam of the torch onto the lioness so that I could get the camera to focus, this help was not forthcoming! Despite all my endeavors I could not seem to get the flash to fire and all my shots were blank grey screens. By now Anne was absolutely furious with me as I was kneeling upright at the open front entrance of the RTT. All I kept remembering was that when I posted a description of a previous lion intrusion into our camp in 2011, someone had asked why I had taken no photographs and I now was determined to obtain a photographic record.

The lioness was really getting fully into her stride and seemed to be having fun as she grasped the 20l water container in her jaws and triumphantly bore it aloft a short distance into the bush from where we could hear the loud sounds of her biting further holes into it. She swaggered back into camp and we could hear the metallic sound as we saw her even trying to gnaw on the gas cylinder. I lost it when she moved in on my folded camp chair just below us and we could hear the tearing sounds as she began ripping at the material. I let her have it with a number of abusive shouts telling her exactly where I felt she should go off to. I have no doubt that other animals such as elephants or hyenas would have got the message and moved off, but not this lady of the night! By this time Anne was thumping me none too gently on my back but I could not just let the lioness go ahead with her wanton destruction of my camping gear.

In the normal course of events much of our gear would have been securely packed away but in our haste because the pride was closing in rapidly, our routine had been disrupted. Believe you me, if I had been in the ground tent setup we had always previously used, my behavior would not have been anything like this. Perhaps I had a feeling of false security perched high on the top of the vehicle. The ladder was still in position, but in any case in retrospect, it would have taken her only 2 bounds and she could have been into the tent if this was what she wanted. We have all seen lions and have been impressed by their size, but I think you never really realize exactly how large they are until they move into your private space. It seemed as if she felt that this was her domain. We were the intruders and she was asserting her authority in no uncertain terms.

Having now completely flattened our camping setup, she grasped our ground sheet in her jaws and dragged it about 30m into the bush. Finding nothing further to amuse herself, the lioness began making the soft cooing sounds lions use to call one another and after a while moved down towards the plains where presumably the rest of the pride was engaged in their legitimate pursuit of hunting for prey and where she should have been in the first place. What prompted her to deviate from this escapes me. Thinking about it now, I am still absolutely astounded at her confident, mischievous and frankly destructive behavior in our camp. What prompted this and what had happened to the inbuilt aversion that lions are supposed to have for human contact? It would seem that she was asserting her territorial authority. I have no doubt that if we had been in a ground tent she might very quickly have destroyed it in that type of mood. Once the walls of the tent had been breached tragedy could have been seconds away. She spent 45 eventful minutes in our camp and I am most annoyed that the only photos I have are of the destruction she wreaked. Incidentally the “illegal” firecrackers I carry for such emergencies were down in the cubbyhole of the vehicle. I had decided to keep them there as I only really envisaged employing them if a pride of lions moved into camp, taking up station in camp and preventing us from leaving our vehicle. Even if I had them with me in the RTT I do not think I would have used them.

The most annoying part of this whole experience is that in scrambling around on my knees to obtain photos, I had inadvertently knelt upon my Kindle and destroyed the screen and now had no reading material for the rest of the trip. I am afraid to say that I received no sympathy from Anne and she was still very annoyed with me for what she termed irresponsible behavior. This proved to be yet another unforgettable bush experience! I wish our absent friends and their families had been with us to experience this. Even such hardened African travelers would have found this a truly memorable experience. It was entirely fortuitous that we had spotted the pride close to camp and had been warned by the patrolling officials who in fact are very seldom seen within the reserve. What might the outcome had been if we had been caught unawares?

Finally, what is it about us that attracts lions into our camp? We eventually drifted off to sleep. I was awakened at about 03H00 by volleys of roars, the nearest being about 300m away. This was later followed by snarls even further away and what I interpreted as the typical sounds of lions feeding on a kill. I am sure that I do not need to explain why we only climbed down from our RTT once there was sufficient daylight to check out the campsite damage. Muttering away I rescued our various articles of camping gear from the surrounding grove of acacias. I first took some photos of them where found. Furthest away was the ground sheet which was dragged all of 40m away. It was undamaged but I had to chuckle as the drag marks cut a wide swath over the sandy campsite. I could only imagine those people taking over the campsite the following day, being impressed with the care we had taken to leave behind a neat site. It would seem to them that we had gone to the trouble to sweep over our footprints in the sand. I trust that they appreciated it! Next was the plastic jerry can water container. It was wrecked beyond belief as it is made of very thick tough plastic and was absolutely riddled with deep fang marks. To my relief the toilet seat was undamaged as losing our shower water for the last 2 days of our stay was bad enough. The material on the backrest of my camping chair was ripped in multiple places but still largely intact and usable. 0f course this chair will still be used on future trips and should provide an interesting talking point. We were still wary in camp as we thought that the lions were still perhaps in the vicinity. After coffee we were ready to leave camp at about 6H45”.

THE SAME SUBADULT CUBS PHOTOGRAPHED THE NEXT MORNING.