The Easter holiday is here and many Ugandans will be looking forward to exploring the various holiday destinations in the country during this long weekend.
Across the country, game parks, which are a home to some of the world’s most exotic animals and Africa’s big 5 remain some of the top tourist attractions.
Whereas many of the parks display the best in East Africa, with their Rift Valley landscapes and tropical forests making dramatic backdrops to an extensive variety of flora and fauna, they can also be extremely dangerous, especially if one does not follow the rules.
Just this week, a Colombian researcher Ramirez Amaya Sebastian while going about his research in Kibale National Park came face-to-face with a lone elephant which charged at him, trampled him, and killed him on the spot.
Sebastian’s case is not isolated, and many tour operators believe that the do’s and don’ts in game reserves should be followed to the dot for one to assume any safety.
How to remain safe
Ibrahim Kayondo, the founder and CEO of Trip Addicts, an award winning domestic travel company says that while in the parks, one should always consult game rangers before making any moves that could put their lives in danger.
“Using a game ranger for safety is key, these know the nooks and crannies of the jungle and in most cases have guns just in case,” Kayondo told this website.
The young travel entrepreneur and tourism enthusiast also guides that one should never leave the van or vehicle while in the game reserve, unless they do so under guidance from the game park rangers.
Leaving the van or vehicle makes one vulnerable to attacks, in an already dangerous situation. Many tourists leave the vehicles to take Instagram-cool photos which put their lives in danger.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority guides that one should be at least seven metres away from the animals, but sometimes the movements one makes while taking photos, the shutter sound and gestures could make the animals feel threatened and charge at you.
Kayondo said that at Trip Addicts, the photos they take in parks are also taken under guidance of the game rangers.
“All the photos we have taken while in the game parks have been under the guidance and supervision of the game rangers, they advise on the distance and behavior to keep away from the animals,” Kayondo said.
Kayondo said that the Uganda Wildlife Authority should also put teaching lessons in place for people who intend to visit park premises as every game reserve has its own guidelines on how to behave while inside the park so that one is not only a danger to themselves, but also, so that they do not put the animals in danger.
He advises that one should stick to the paths put in place by the game reserve’s authority, and not try to do anything off script.
Uganda Wildlife Authority’s park rules and regulations include;
Do not camp or make campfires except at designated sites.
Do not exceed the speed limit of 40km per hour (25mph).
Do not drive in the park between 7pm and 7am.
Do not bring firearms or ammunition into the park.
Do not drive off the tracks.
Do not litter.
Do not disturb wildlife by sounding motor horns.
Do not pick flowers or destroy any vegetation.
Do not bring dogs or other pets into the park.
Do not enter the park without inspection.