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.
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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.
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"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 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.
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
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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