It is quite likely that you have heard all sorts of tales about all sorts of things when reading up about the Kruger National Park. There is just so much information about so many aspects of the park that often fact is blurred with fiction, and then the fiction is sold as truth. In this blog, we’re going to attempt to bring some clarity to those old myths that are still believed.
Ever seen a drunk elephant? That is a common story that has been told many times over. Elephants eat the marulas and then get drunk from it. The story is often told but have you ever met someone that has come across a drunk elephant in the Kruger National Park. This is an absolute myth. Marulas lying on the ground don’t build up sufficient alcohol content to make even a man drunk. It’s as good as saying that should a man eat rotten grapes, he too will get drunk from them. What is true is that elephant bulls lie down on their side and can sleep for several hours.
The story goes that if you want to find water you need to catch a baboon by placing salt in a hole in the ground. The hole must be small enough that when the baboon has a fistful he cannot extract his hand. Now when its hand is stuck you catch the baboon and let it eat the salt. Soon the baboon will get thirsty and lead you to its water source. This is a total myth, firstly baboons will realise their hand is stuck and let go of the salt to free itself when you approach. Secondly like humans, baboons don’t crave salt or even need much salt in their diet. Like most animals, baboons simply follow the spoor of water reliant animals to find a water source.
A waterbuck is not tasty meat to eat. Lucky for the waterbuck if you are the hunter, unfortunate for you as this is a myth. During particularly dry seasons, waterbuck may eat certain herbs and grasses that will make the meat less tasty, but then again so do some goats and sheep and it certainly taints the flavour of that meat too. Waterbuck do prefer to live closer to the water and that is probably where the herbs are growing. That being said, waterbuck are as good to eat as any other antelope.
Kill all snake as they are dangerous. Untrue. Not all snakes are poisonous and those that are use their venom to help them catch and digest their prey. As a matter of fact, snakes are a very necessary species in an ecosystem. Snakes help to control a number of rodents that are a pest to humans. In South Africa about 80 per cent of snakes are not dangerous to humans. As little as 12 snake species in South Africa are dangerous and then they normally only strike if they have been interfered with or feel cornered. Snakes definitely will not attack you, but will bite to get way from a human attack.
Bats carry rabies. No they don’t. Although rabies can be contracted by a bat or any other mammal for that matter, the bat will have to have been bitten by another mammal that is carrying the virus in order to get it. Our South African bats eat insects or fruit they are very unlikely to ever contract rabies.