How to survive a night in the wild (dreamstime)
List 15 July

6 tips for surviving a night in the bush

If you get lost on the African plains, Rob Clifford's top tips will help keep you alive until dawn...

1. Think logically

Generally, everything in the bush is better equipped than you are but there are things you can use to your advantage. Look for trees, rocks and banks to leap up. Beware of using caves as you never know what got there first…

2. Pre-empt the dangers

You can work out the biggest threats and habitats to avoid through a process of elimination. Spiders and scorpions lurk under rocks; snakes sit in trees; elephants enjoy open grasslands by day, but prefer the woodland’s safety at night. Obvious game trails are a likely highway for nocturnal predators.

3. Pick your location

The perfect spot to spend the night is at the base of a tree, back to the bark, with a good view of what is around. Look for elevation – higher ground gives you a better view, good hearing and more ambient light. Clear the area – walk around to check for signs of animal activity.

4. Get settled

Make yourself as comfortable as possible in a sitting position. This way you can hear and smell what is around you. Do not climb a tree for a sleep – you’ll likely roll over and fall out. Try not to move unnecessarily through the night.

5. Think through your flight plan

Prepare an escape route: look for a suitable tree or boulder. Familiarise yourself with any obstacles. Don’t expect to run at night – this invariably ends in injury or worse.

6. Be mentally prepared

Remain calm. Identifying the sounds of the night is hugely soothing. Remember: in most cases animals are afraid of humans. In the busiest wildlife areas the chances of anything happening are highly unlikely. Sleep well!

Did you know? A University of Minnesota study revealed that of the 500 lion attacks on Tanzanian villagers from 1988 to 2009, most victims were attacked between dusk and 10pm, on nights with low moonlight.

Rob Clifford is Operations Manager at Robin Pope Safaris, which offers safaris in Zambia and Malawi

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