PICS: Visitors share amazing close encounters in iSimangaliso’s wild town

2017-07-26 09:52
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Cape Town - Mzansi never fails to surprise when it comes to close encounters with wildlife.

From intriguing animal interactions at various game parks that make us think twice about who really is the "king of the jungle", to many public appearances of wildlife in areas close to parks, there's always something fascinating for locals and tourists to witness.

One of the privileges of living in or visiting the Lake St Lucia Estuary section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the abundance of wildlife that roams freely throughout the estuarine forests bordering the village of St Lucia.

ALSO SEE: #ProudlySA: iSimangaliso's youngster flies SA flag high at UN assembly

The area is surrounded by the World Heritage Site’s dense vegetation, red duiker, bushbuck, mongoose, crocodiles, vervet monkeys, waterbuck and a myriad birds. "Hippos are a nightly, and often daily, sight on the verges, gardens and streets of the popular holiday destination," says the Wetland Park.

Recently in the small town of St Lucia, a hippo casually strolled through a petrol station one the evening. Check out the video here.

SEE: #EcoTravel: Tap into nature's healing at iSimangaliso

"From time to time hyena roam under cover of darkness, their calls frequently punctuating the night. And while leopard are less frequently seen, their presence is well known," the Park says.

St Lucia resident Larina Joubert recently caught a photo of an elusive leopard on the town’s streets, which she shared on Facebook. Imagine driving out your property and finding a leopard just around the corner! Check out the image:

Leopard on St Lucia's streets. (Photo: Larina Joubert) 

Hippos are more frequently spotted in public areas. See these close encounters shared by St Lucia's residents and visitors:

Hippo caught strolling through the town. (Photo: Supplied)

Hippo near a car in St Lucia. (Photo: Supplied)

Hippo waiting at crossroads. (Photo: Advantage Tours)

"These are just a few of the varied animals that one may freely spot without even entering the gates of the Park," says iSimangaliso.

“Our magnificent wildlife is one of the greatest draw cards to this southern section of the World Heritage Site,” says iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis. “There are few towns in the world with such a combination of warm ocean, golden beaches and prolific birds and wild animals peacefully cohabiting with human residents and visitors. It is truly iconic.”

Visitors and residents must be vigilant 

"With a predominantly international visitor population, especially at this time of year, as well as animals seeking their natural food close to human habitation in the leaner winter months, we remind visitors to be very vigilant when walking in town or in the forested areas to avoid any negative encounters," says Zaloumis.

"Wild animals have lived here since time immemorial. They remain wild and are potentially dangerous defending their territory and young.  The rule of thumb is to give them as wide a berth as possible, whether on foot or in a vehicle," he says.

Zaloumis advises people to be especially aware of hippo and says "if you must walk in town at night, use a powerful torch. Do not at any time be tempted to enter the estuary water. It is the crocodile you can’t see that poses the greatest risk."

SEE: iSimangaliso comfort zone: Man versus wild

iSimangaliso Wetland Park also asks people to report any potentially dangerous or unlawful situations, snares, feeding of wildlife or provocation of animals to the 24-hour emergency line: 082 797 7944.

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