Skip to content

Why Are Animals Scared of Humans in the Wild

Quite often we begin one of our private Kruger safaris in the national park itself and then move to the privacy inside Greater Kruger Park to one of our eco-friendly and sustainable lodges, something Moriti is very passionate about.

What is very noticeable between the two reserves is how the animals react to the vehicle and us. Kruger National Park, the animals are very relaxed and will walk up to the vehicle, sometimes even lying next to it and falling asleep. In Greater Kruger National Park, the animals are not as relaxed and you tend to have to work towards a good sighting and gain their trust. This is purely because in Kruger National Park, just under 1 million people a year visit and the animals have become used to seeing vehicles and people around and we have essentially become part of their environment. Adversely, in the Klaserie Game Reserve, we get under half of that and in some areas the animals do not see people or vehicles for days on end. However, one thing that remains in both reserves is how the animals react when they see humans on foot…

I have researched this and found some interesting arguments around this topic, so let’s look at a few reasons why this may occur and then I will comment on the experience I have had in the bush.

Leopard on the run in Greater Kruger Park

Shy leopard running away

Grey Duiker in Kruger Park

Shy Duiker coming out for a rare glimpse

Most people believe that we are seen as predators due to our upright stance and eye position. Years of persecution may have installed an innate sense of fear in animals and this has some merit. A baby impala sees a lion walking across the bush, it lies down flat and doesn’t move a muscle to prevent being seen… This impala has never seen a lion before, but instinct tells it that this lion poses a serious threat to it. Maybe it is the alarm calls from its mother and another impala? I guess we will never know, but I believe that to live out in the wild as the animals do, their instincts are the main reason they survive.

Some people will say it is because we are foreign and that the animals are not used to seeing us around in their environment. In both reserves, the animals are in contact with humans regularly so that argument is flawed as far as I can see. In areas where there are no predators, the animals tend to be a lot more open to being approached on foot, even sometimes being curious themselves… Does this disprove that we are seen as predators? Darwin documented that in areas where animals had never seen humans before these animals were not afraid and very curious. Maybe our predator label has evolved over many years of hunting in Africa, that is certainly believable and something I would actually go with.

Both of these arguments may become redundant when you visit Mana Pools in Zimbabwe… The animals have become used to people on foot and even though their danger bubble is bigger than what it would be in a vehicle, you can get very close to Africa’s Big 5 without disturbing them too much. So, is it logical to say then that after some time the animals get used to seeing us in either a car or on foot and they allow us into their world for a glimpse? This is most certainly the case, build trust and anything is possible up to a point.

I have done a lot of thinking and watching over the last six months and judging by what the animals are doing I think the following may be true… I reckon our disrespect of the environment and hunting animals to the brink of extinction have installed a fear towards humans that has become an instinct to many animals. I think right off the bat we have to earn an animals respect and trust. I think it would be very arrogant of us to believe that these animals should adapt to us. Game reserves like Sabi Sands have it right, they get the babies of each species to trust them by introducing vehicles and people on foot to them at an early age. Some may say that this is purely for the tourists and money, but there is a bigger picture here. These game reserves that we enjoy so much will become the animals last areas of freedom. We need to live in harmony with them and over time evolve with them to be able to have a mutual respect for one another like the Bushman and American Indians had with their environment. That will take time, so how do we adapt to their instincts for the time being?

Watch them carefully… We are still seen as a predator or ‘boogie man’ to many animals so we need to adapt to how the predators in the bush behave and find out what is acceptable behaviour for the majority. Spend time out there, watch how the animals react to bigger animals and predators, what do they do that spark alarm or fear and when are they seen as ‘just passing through’. This is key as not only will we enjoy a better sighting, but we will start building a better relationship and maybe even start eroding that fear slowly…

Do you want to go out and experience what it is really like approaching animals on foot and how they respond to humans? Join me on a private safari in Kruger Park and let me run through everything with you in person which will enhance the many private African safaris that you will have on this continent we love so much.

Sun seperator for website

Our Safaris

Territorial Male Rhino

4 Day Kruger Park Safari

Enjoy open vehicle game drives out in the African bush with expert guides and trackers. Perfect for people wanting a less commercial experience. Rates start from ZAR 7,500 per person per night.
Read more
Male Lions Phinda

Beach & Bush Heritage Safari

We turn the cultural tone up a few notches with a tailored vacation around Africa's big game and the warm Indian Ocean. Rates start from ZAR 8,800 per person per night.
Read more
Family Safari Coffee Stop

Best Of Zimbabwe Safari

This 10-day safari explores Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park and Victoria Falls. Rates start from USD 1,050 per person per day.
Read more
Tsowa Safari Island, part of a Cape Town, Kruger, Victoria Falls Package

Cape Town, Kruger, Victoria Falls Safari

Come with us on our epic 12-day 'safari triangle' safari and visit Africa's favourite destinations. Rates start from ZAR 10,550 per person per night.
Read more
Male lion close to Satara Kruger Park

Highlights of Kruger National Park

There is something to be said about being out in the African bush for 7-days with the Big 5 around you. Rates start from ZAR 10,400 per person per night.
Read more
Lion jumping over water on a 7 day Zambia safari

Kafue National Park and Victoria Falls Safari

A safari with a difference visiting Victoria Falls and the wildlife paradise that is Kafue National Park. Rates for this safari start from USD 1,550 per person per night.
Read more
Southern Tip of Africa

Kruger to Cape Town Safari

Two South African safari titans come together in everyone's favourite safari combo. Rates start from ZAR 7,500 per person.
Read more
Cheetah Sighting at Phinda Private Game Reserve

Kruger to Phinda Beach to Bush Safari

Kick back at a luxury game lodge in Kruger & Phinda including swimming and snorkelling on a private beach! Rates start from ZAR 15,850 per person per night.
Read more
Leopard waking up on safari

Okavango & Linyanti Safari

A 7-day safari exploring Botswana's garden of Eden . It's wild, it's beautiful! Rates start from USD 1,500 per person per night.
Read more
Private safari with Moriti Safaris

Private Kruger Safaris

Privately guided game drives in Big 5 country, any dietary requirements met, transfers and an exclusive game lodge. It's your own African adventure! Rates start from ZAR 6,500 per person per night for a family of 4.
Read more
Male lion close to Satara Kruger Park

Self Catered Kruger Safari

A privately guided self-catered safari that offers a full day exploring southern Kruger National Park. Rates start from ZAR 3,500 per person per night.
Read more
Private Kruger safaris with Moriti Private Safaris

Self-Drive Safari in Kruger National Park

A self-drive safari with a difference, we plan it all for you and you just get to be an African safari guide, albeit just for a while. It is tailored to your family. Rates start from ZAR 2,000 per person per day.
Read more

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back To Top