Your Safety

It is common to observe African residents referring to the "safety paranoia" of foreign visitors.  At Custom Safaris we view this in a different way:

After September 11 and in the face of current world macro politics American travelers have to be realistic in calculating their safety in unknown territories. We understand that.

Observing the South African official crime statistics, visitors have every reason to fear a trip to this beautiful country.  Add to that the distortion of media presentations and you have a dark picture of insecurity.  "Fear of the unknown" is only natural to all people, further adding to the visitor's perceptions of dangerous conditions awaiting him.

We have empathy with the fears of the foreign hunter, especially when his wife accompanies him - with added responsibilities.

The "first-timer-to-Africa" typically plans his once-in-a-lifetime visit with limited, indirect information regarding the safety situation here.  His outfitter and safari guide reassures him that "all shall be well".  But before making a commitment, the would-be visitor wants to know what the risks really are, and how his guide in South Africa is planning to deal with realistic fears.

 

Based mainly on questions from potential clients, Custom Safaris listed the perceived threats which a visiting hunter may contemplate, and addressed these accordingly:

 

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The dangers of flying (both before and after 11 September 2001) is a personal risk calculation which every potential air traveler has to quantify for himself or herself.

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Americans are reluctant to trust the security systems employed in countries that host categories of people with anti-American politics.  South Africa should not be a direct threat to the visiting American hunter.  The circles in which you move while on hunting safari, will not entertain sentiments of that kind. While in South Africa, you have your rights to freedom, speech and legal support, on par with any first world country.

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Foremost in the minds of all foreigners is the reality of violent crime.  These SA statistics cannot be argued away.  Murder, rape, armed robbery, hi-jacking, mugging, assault, etc. are real issues around which South Africans have learnt to manage their daily lives.  Like anywhere else in the world, the best measure of prevention is to avoid getting into risky situations in the first place.  Traveling and residing in safe areas go a long way towards enjoying a trouble free stay.  I have been carrying a gun on my person for over 30 years, yet never had the need to use it.  I am thankful that no member of my own family had experienced anything traumatic yet.  I therefore truly believe that a visiting hunter has reason to feel just as safe as he would feel at home, provided his guide takes the necessary precautionary measures, based on "prevention being better than cure".

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The chances of road accidents are minimized by using reliable, well-maintained vehicles, driven with the necessary defensive care, and selecting the right traveling times and routes.  We have tow-in emergency insurance and we use mobile (cell) phones when traveling.  Despite first and third world vehicles sharing the same public roads, I am thankful to report no serious accidents to date for me and my family.

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The risks of household accidents like cuts, bruises, falls, electricity, sunburn etc. can be minimized in the normal ways of care taking.  By law your guide should have a First Aid kit handy and the knowledge to use it. 

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Malaria, cholera, typhoid, HIV / AIDS, hepatitis and the likes are all within one’s own control.  It is well documented what to do and what not to do.  The medical facilities of SA compare with the best in the world.  At Custom Safaris we bring potential clients in direct contact with special SA medical help desks for reliable, up-to-date guidance while they are still in the early phases of planning their safaris. Malaria is the most important threat for hunters to take into consideration. Risk of contamination varies from high to zero within 100 miles.  These risks change with time and region, so it is important for the hunter to communicate upfront with his outfitter on this aspect. With respect to "First World" medical fraternity, they do not understand Malaria. The client would be far better advised by South African medical info centers than by those in his home state, where the number one killer of man on this planet is treated as third world fiction.  The classical case is the client who arrives with full treatment against Malaria (and everything else!) for his winter safari in the Freestate - so sick from medication that he is unable to hunt.  Understandably African outfitters are nervous to advise their clients on which shots and inoculations to take (since they may get sued) so they take the safe route by letting the client make his own decisions - based on advice from the client's doctor - who could care less about the hunt but surely does not want to get sued either.

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Gun accidents should not happen where internationally acknowledged firearm etiquette is practiced.  Hopefully there are few cowboys amongst the ranks of Professional Hunters and visiting safari attendants.  The common gun rules are not negotiable.

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Dangerous game species is not on direct offer by Custom Safaris, but might be roaming free on some of the ranches where plains game are being hunted.  If left alone, they pose little threat.  Unprovoked charges are rare, provided they are truly unprovoked.

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Snakes and insects can be treacherous if we do not understand their habits and act preventatively.  The statistics indicate a low incidence of snake bite though.

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Wounded plains game is not to be under-estimated.  Gemsbok, bush pig, bushbuck, black wildebeest and warthog are known to be dangerous when wounded or cornered, but even steenbok and baboons are on record to have injured hunters.  The bite of a jackal or cat or mongoose can cause rabies.  These risks are largely under our own control and can be minimized by not acting foolishly.

 

At Custom Safaris we encourage potential clients to ask us direct and frank questions about safety conditions.  We do no know what you do not know.

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