Trekking safety is an important aspect of concern. Medications, acclimatization, choosing the right trekking gear play an important role in dealing with trekking anxiety. However, the biggest ‘what if’ that surrounds the safety bubble on a trek is: what if you encounter wild animals while trekking? As tough as it may sound, you ought to stay calm and be prepared during wild animal attacks. Here’s how:
Stay aware: Gather enough information about your terrain well in advance. Do your homework. Understand the routes thoroughly, walk-in trails designated for trekkers and study the wildlife before you tread uphill. Sometimes, just knowing the kind of animals you might face could help you stay cautious and prevent wild animal attacks. Additionally, make a note of the timings when these animals are on a prowl.
Do not run: In most cases, wild animal attacks happen when you display aggressive and instant motion. The key is to stay calm. When you see a wild animal, do not panic. Catch your breath and stay still for as long as you can. Do not run. A bear, for instance, might get closer to you to sniff around and fulfill his curiosity. In such cases, do not display rapid movements.
Do not charge: As funny as this may sound, a normal human tendency is to save yourself with all your might, causing you to act irrationally at times. Don’t go charging at the animals aggressively to move them away. Simple gestures like waving your hands or using stones are fine for a bear that suddenly appears at your campsite or tries to steal your food. Animals are intimidated by aggressive motion and usually attack when attacked.
Play dead: You must have heard this couple of times, but it actually works. If you’ve tried to do all the above and nothing works, simply play dead. Curl up, cover your head with your hands and lie still. Wild animals like a bear might sniff you around and will walk away eventually. Also, there’s something called bear spray. Please buy it.
Fight back: This is a tricky situation but could be one you might get into. If the animal is already attacking you, protect your vital organs as much as you can. Throw stones, fight back with anything you can get hold of and poke its eyes if you can. Be aggressive and make loud sounds. To begin with, try not to fall on your back, as that gives the animal an advantage over you. Stay firm on your feet.
Avoidance is key: The best way to tackle wild animal attacks is to prevent them. Stay in groups to avoid getting in the target zone of a mountain lion or leopard. There is nothing more tempting than finding their prey moving solo. Do not tempt your prospective attacker with strong scents, loud sounds or food left in the open. Likewise, do not engage with the cubs of wild animals no matter how ‘cute’ they look. Their mommy isn’t going to be too happy with that.
Understand the terrain before you start trekking and chat with the locals. Sometimes, they have important stories to share. After all, these are just pointers and are easier said than done. We hope for your safety. Stay cautious always!