When NOT to run

Well, it appears that when a bear attacks you, it’s a bad time to run. This week there has been a report of a camper in Yellowstone National Park, who woke up to find a bear gnawing on her.

When screaming seemed to agitate the bear even more, she decided to play dead.  According to the report “Her determination to stay calm and fight panic proved critical to her survival”.

I had heard this kind of thing before. A while back we went on a game drive while visiting a South African game reserve.  It was a cool, misty morning and coming around a corner, we saw a small pride of lions sitting down to their breakfast – a fresh kill. It wasn’t the sight of the event, rather than the sounds of breaking bones and tearing flesh, which were so disturbing.

That evening we were discussing the day’s sightings with the game rangers who had taken us on the drive. Somebody voiced the concern that the lions had been awfully close to us – especially considering the open vehicle we had been travelling in. Which prompted the one game ranger to tell us what not to do in the case of a lion (or in fact any big cat) confrontation. The big tip was: DO NOT RUN! This would apparently just awaken the lion’s instinct to chase . . . and lions can actually run quite fast. And climb trees if they have to. What you’re supposed to do, is to stand as tall as possible, and make a lot of noise. As in “BACK   OFF   KITTY!!!”?!

I am not sure I would be able to speak, let alone make a lot of noise, if I bumped into a lion one day. I would probably faint i.e. look like I was playing dead. And I’m not so sure that that would work with a lion. It would probably just think “Ah, a stationary snack”!


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Categories: Nature/Environment


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at https://notesfromafrica.wordpress.com and http://southerncape.wordpress.com (my photoblog)


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3 Comments on “When NOT to run”

  1. August 5, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Phew! That’s one angry looking “kitty”. Don’t know if I would faint, but my heart will probably stop, in which case I won’t know that I’m being eaten. You can always recover from the faint and realise you are a “snack”.

    I also think you are right about the lion not being put off by the ‘dead’ thing. If my cat’s behaviour is anything to go by it will pick you up to either carry you home or play with you.

    Oh jeez!!! Now I’m thinking about those crushing bones you heard.

    • August 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

      I don’t think cats in the wild play with their food much. So I don’t think I’d be alive for too long. But the thought of being eaten by a lion isn’t a pleasant one.


  1. Kalahari: Big Cats I « Notes from Africa | photoblog - August 17, 2010

    […] with a lion, and the consequences. If you want to know what not to do check out “When NOT to run“. The Bitterpan Kettle: The story that gets told about this is that a visitor to the […]

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