Safety in confrontation with big game

Safety in confrontation with big game

Safety abroad Worldwide, encounters between humans and various big game species occur time and again (z. B. lions, hippos, tigers, bears, pumas), be it intentional (z. B. Safaris) or unintentionally (z. B. farmers, hikers). However, it is not uncommon for such encounters to result in confrontations, often resulting in serious or even fatal injuries to humans. There is no meaningful data on confrontations with wildlife. Most studies of der-type incidents are limited to specific regional areas, or else to specific wildlife species. Christian Kuhn, Julia Kuhn, Thomas Kupper

A literature review was conducted with the purpose of using some studies from it to provide an overview of confrontations with big game and thus tend to assess the risk in different regions. Studies from North America and sub-Saharan Africa were evaluated and compared.

Many of the confrontations described came about only because of reckless or careless behavior on the part of the victims. Therefore, recommendations are made for prevention, safety, and proper behaviors for encounters and confrontations with various wild animals. These are based on a compilation from various technical literature as well as from personal experience of the authors.


In a narrower sense, big game refers to the totality of large huntable terrestrial vertebrates, such as deer, elk, antelope, gazelle, rhinoceros, elephant, big cat, and bear (Deutsche Enzyklopadie 2014; s. "More Info"). confrontations of humans with big game are rare, because these wild animals are rather shy and try to avoid humans. So encounters with wild animals are often not even noticed by humans, because the animals usually smell the humans very early and take flight. Add to this the fact that most large animals inhabit remote or rural regions of. Typical habitats for big game are primarily the secluded areas that are different for the various climatic zones, such as z. B. dense forests, savannas or deserts. To be mentioned here are u. a. the forests and national parks of North America (e.g. B. Yellowstone National Park), the dense rainforests of South America (z. B. Amazon basin) and Asia, the savannahs and national parks of southern and eastern Africa (z. B. Massai Mara National Park). However, the natural habitats of most wildlife are increasingly being encroached upon by humans, often resulting in conflicts between wildlife habitats and new human farm and residential land. This makes confrontations between wildlife and humans more likely.

However, the encounter between humans and big game takes place above all in the area of adventure and safari tourism, which is becoming increasingly popular. Thus visited z. B. in 2013, over 5.2 million. Visitors the national parks of South Africa, the national parks of the USA registered even 273.6 million visitors (s. "Further Info"). But also in the professional sector (z. B. rangers, game wardens, explorers, expedition members) may have a confrontation with big game.

International tourism and professional travel abroad are increasing rapidly worldwide. Especially the regions of the world described above with high big game occurrences are experiencing a strong increase in international tourists. North America showed a 6.4% increase in international tourists in the first six months of 2014, South America 6.2%, Asia and Oceania 5.4%, and Sub-Saharan Africa 2.8% (World Tourism Organization 2014). This increase in tourism also increases the likelihood of a direct encounter between humans and big game, and thus the associated risk of an often serious attack by wild animals.


For the following description of the epidemiology of confrontations with big game, a literature search was conducted using the major literature databases, including Pubmed, Embase, and Wiley. Some studies were used to give an impression about the frequency of confrontations with big game, so that a tendency risk for certain regions can be derived. For this purpose, studies on different areas and different animal species were singled out and described.

In order to present the correct behaviors for the different big game species, a wide variety of literature from studies as well as from relevant textbooks on expedition medicine, travel medicine and survival was also used. In addition, the authors have included their personal experiences.

Epidemiology of confrontation with big game

General figures on incidents with big game do not exist in the literature. Previous publications include mostly very regionally based studies on confrontations with big game or only incidents with a specific mammal species. Another problem with regard to reliable data is the frequent lack of reporting of incidents to the competent authorities. Especially in developing countries, attacks by wild animals are not reported by the local population and thus are not registered in any way. In Africa, confrontations are most common with lions (Panthera leo), leopards (Panthera pardus), hippos (Hippo-potamus amphibius), elephants (Loxodonta africana), rhinos (Diceros bicornis and Ceratotherium simun), hyenas (Crocuta cro-cuta), buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and zebras (Equus grevyi, Equus zebra and Equus quag-ga) ( Table 1). Only for North America reliable figures on confrontations with bears and cougars can be found.

In South Africa, between January 1988 and December 1997, there were 21 documented confrontations of tourists with big game (Durrheim et al. 1999). 7 tourists were killed and 14 were moderately to severely injured in these incidents. Wildlife involved in the incidents included lions in five cases (four cases fatal), elephants in two cases (one case fatal), hippos in seven cases (two cases fatal), rhinos in two cases (no case fatal), buffalo in three cases (no case fatal), leopard in one case (non-fatal), and zebra in one case (non-fatal).

After four years of medical practice in various regions of southern Africa, Pickles (1987) described seven cases in which patients were under his care for injuries to wild animals. There were four confrontations with hippopotamus, two with buffalo, one with lion. In all cases, the patients were seriously injured (Pickles 1987). Gilyoma et. al. (2013) investigated animal injuries to patients of the emergency department of Bugando Medical Center in northern Tanzania. These involved the treatment of a total of 452 patients with injuries caused by animals over a five-year period. It was found that only 28 patients (6.2%) suffered their injuries from confrontation with big game (Gilyoma et al. 2013). In twelve patients hyenas were responsible, in nine patients leopards, in five patients elephants, in one patient a lion and in another a hippopotamus.

Tanzania is considered the country with the largest population of lions (Bauer et al. 2004). A study there describes all recorded incidents involving lions in Tanzania from 1994 to 2004. According to this, there were 563 fatal confrontations between humans and lions and 308 other incidents in which humans were injured by lions (Packer et al. 2005). Incidents with the Asiatic lion, which today occurs only in the Indian state of Gujarat, are also not rare. Between 1977 and 1991, for example, there were 193 registered attacks, 28 of which ended fatally for the victim (Saberwal et al. 1994).

Also in India, Das (2011) described deaths from elephant attacks, registered in the Department of Forensic Medicine at the B.S. Medical College in Bankura. Over a period of three years, 14 cases were registered there (Das et al. 2011). In all cases, bull elephants are said to have been responsible for a sudden attack without provocation.

When people talk about confrontations with big game in North America, they are usually talking about encounters with bears, cougars and bison ( Table 2). Regular encounters between humans and black bears (Ursus americanus), brown bear (grizzly, Ursus arctos) or polar bears (Ursus maritimus) instead of. Occasionally there are incidents with injuries or even deaths. Herrero (1990) describes over 500 people wounded by black bears between 1960 and 1980. However, he also points out that the risk of being injured by a bear in North America is very low. Herrero (1990) shows the number of visitors of a national park per injury by bears. For example, Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, recorded one bear injury to 2,802,537 visitors from 1980-1985. The situation is similar at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA, where there was one injury per 1 157 465 visitors during the same period. Kluane National Park in Yukon, Canada, where there was one injury for every 317,700 visitors, had a higher risk. However, it must be noted here that many visitors do not leave the main trails and stay mainly at the major attractions of the national park and thus do not enter bear territory (Floyd 1999). Therefore, only people traveling in remote, uninhabited areas of the national parks were used for a risk assessment. In this collective, the risk increased to one injury per 30 060 individuals in Yellowstone National Park and one injury per 23 400 individuals in Kluane National Park (Herrero et al. 1990). Injuries by polar bears were also rare during the period 1965-1985. Here, 20 injuries were mentioned, one of which was fatal (Herrero et al. 1990).

However, there were also some fatal incidents with black bears. From 1900 to 2009, 63 fatal confrontations with black bears were recorded in North America, including 49 in Canada and Alaska, USA, plus 14 in the other 48 states of the continental United States (Herrero et al. 2011). However, these data are based on a database by Herrero, who attempted to find all fatal incidents involving black bears in North America beginning in 1967. Thus, it is possible that especially at the beginning of the 20. In the first half of the 21st century, such confrontations were not registered and therefore not recorded in the database.

Gunther (1998) speaks of three fatal cases out of 34 confrontations in Yellowstone National Park from 1970 to 1994. In another study by Herrero and Higgins (1999; s. "Other in-fos") were summarized incidents with brown bears and black bears in British Columbia, Canada. There were 72 confrontations with serious or fatal injuries between 1967 and 1997. Of these, 68% (49 of 72) were due to grizzlies and 31% (22 of 72) were due to black bears. However, only 16% of grizzly attacks were fatal, compared to 36% of black bear attacks. In summary, Floyd (1999) speaks of an average of ten fatal confrontations with bears per year in North America.

Bear attacks are also regularly registered in Asia. In Kashmir (border region of India, Pakistan, China), 254 bear (Ursus thibetanus) attacks with two fatalities were documented from January 2003 to June 2007 (Tak et al. 2009). Most attacks (80%) occurred in cornfields or apple orchards, where unexpected encounters occurred. 20% of the attacks took place in dense forests.

Besides bears, in North America there are more or less regular confrontations with the American buffalo (bison bison). In Yellowstone National Park there are even more injured visitors after confrontations with buffalos than after confrontations with bears. From 1978 to 1992, 56 incidents of bison injury were reported in Yellowstone National Park (Conrad et al. 1994), two of the confrontations in 1983 and 1989 were fatal.

In North America, confrontations between humans and wild big cats are also not uncommon. Here, primarily the cougar (Felis concolor), also called mountain lion. Beier (1991) summarized all documented incidents with cougars in the USA and Canada from 1890 to 1990. This purports to include all fatal attacks by cougars since 1890 and all non-fatal attacks since 1970. Thus, ten fatal confrontations and 48 further confrontations were documented, in which the persons concerned escaped with injuries (Beier 1991). It must be emphasized here that pumas are the big cats with the greatest distribution and also regular visitors to settlements and suburbs. This includes a potential threat to more densely populated areas. With the frequency data it is to be considered beyond that that surely not all incidents in the study were included. Survivors of cougar confrontations from British Columbia/Canada (northeastern Vancouver Island region, Bella Coola, Knight Inlet) have personally described their experiences in a credible and detailed manner. In all cases, the big cat had retreated after encountering massive resistance (violent stick strikes).

Nabi et al. (2009) summarizes all wildlife attacks documented in the Srinagar Hos-pital and the Wildlife Protection Depart-ment of Kashmir. Accordingly, between January 2005 and October 2007, there were 203 attacks by big game, of which 26 were fatal to the victim. Attacking animals were bears in 51.2% (104), leopards in 8.8% (18), and wolves in 3.4% (7). In 74 cases (36,4 %) the animal could not be identified. Most of the incidents occurred in southern Kashmir.

Wolves are also native to Europe and Germany. Currently, there are 25 wolf packs, 7 wolf pairs and 13 individual wolves in seven German states (Naturschutzbund Deutschland e. V. 2014). However, wolves are considered to be very shy animals, so that there are only very few sightings. Confrontations are described worldwide only in case reports and have not yet occurred in Germany.

In addition to the studies on wildlife confrontations described above, there are several case reports of such incidents. Yadav (2012) reports on a non-fatal confrontation between a 22-year-old man and an elephant in Nepal. The young man was riding his bicycle outside his village when he was caught by the elephant’s trunk and thrown off the bike. In addition, the single bull elephant stomped on the man’s face. This resulted in multiple fractures of the facial skull and also severe injuries of the soft tissues.

Over three separate confrontations with wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Turkey reported Gunduz (2007). The cases that occurred in 2004 and 2006 resulted in multiple soft tissue injuries to the patients’ lower extremities. No complications occurred after thorough wound cleansing in the appropriate emergency rooms, antibiotic coverage, and positive tetanus immunity. All patients reported that the attack occurred for no apparent reason or provocation.

It happened differently in the case of an attack by a lowland tapir weighing about 180 kg (Tapirus terrestris) in Brazil, who resisted attacks by a farmer. Haddad (2005) describes that the farmer was concerned about his nearby cornfield and tried to drive the wild animal away. However, this subsequently attacked the farmer, causing massive bite wounds that resulted in the farmer’s death from excessive blood loss.

Another interesting case occurred in Yellowstone National Park, where a 57-year-old German man was killed by a coyote (Canis latrans) were attacked (Hsu et al. 1996). The hiker rested off the trail in a field and fell asleep. Awakened by a sharp pain, he found that he had been bitten on the right foot by a coyote. Despite only a slight soft tissue injury, the bite wound was thoroughly cleaned at a nearby hospital. In addition, the patient was treated with active and passive immunization against rabies. Incidents involving coyotes are now quite common in some cities (for example, Vancouver, Canada), but they are directed virtually exclusively against smaller domestic animals, especially dogs that are not leashed.

However, apart from the studies and case reports described above, there is an estimate of annual deaths and attacks by specific wildlife species ( Table 3). The estimate of deaths by wild animals amounts to several thousand per year worldwide, with the most cases originating from lions and tigers in Africa and Asia (Freer 2007).

In conclusion, most confrontations with large animals are caused by domestic or farm animals. From 1979 to 1990, 1164 deaths from nonvenomous animals were recorded in the United States (Langley et al. 1997). Of these, 35.5% occurred on a farm and 29.5% occurred in the home environment.

Behavior and safety in confrontations with big game

Prevention of dangerous confrontations with wildlife during an encounter requires a good knowledge of the behavior of different wildlife in different situations. Therefore, anyone for whom an encounter with big game is not out of the question should be thoroughly informed about the specific behavior of the particular wildlife species in the target area. These include u. a. Also basic knowledge of the tracks left by potentially dangerous species. Furthermore, most attacks are preceded by threatening gestures of the animal, which should be noticed and interpreted correctly.

For most wildlife, they tend to be shy and try to avoid humans. Exceptions are wild animals that are now accustomed to encountering humans or are even regularly fed by them. This is especially true for the national parks of North America. By recognizing that waste contains many more calories than their normally plant-based diet, black bears are "conquering" the suburban areas of many regions. There are regular confrontations here, especially with joggers, cyclists and dogs, as well as with their owners.

Few big game species would attack humans without provocation. Although humans are not their natural prey, the large carnivores are an exception, especially tigers and lions in Asia and Africa, which do not shy away from humans. However, a large part of the incidents with injuries or fatalities are based on risky and irrational behavior of humans towards large wild animals. In particular, the cases described above in Africa are good examples of such reckless behavior by people, most of whom are tourists traveling in areas with wildlife.

Durrheim (1999) describes two incidents with lions and one with a hippopotamus resulting from leaving the car during a safari to photograph the animals. In one case, the later victim even approached a group of lions up to 30 m away. Incidents with elephants took place in several cases due to a too close approach by a car, which made the elephant feel threatened and defended itself. There were also a couple of incidents with lions and hippos as those involved were making their way from the main house to their sleeping quarters within one camp. Again, special care should be taken.

Incidents involving cougars in North America are somewhat different in nature. Both Beier (1991) and McKee (2003) describe attacks by cougars coming out of nowhere. Mostly the animal is not noticed by the victim before the attack. The attack is not preceded by any provocation by the victim.

Again the situation is different in incidents with bears. Floyd (1999) divides attacks by bears in North America into three groups: "unexpected encounters", "provocations" and "attacks as predators". Accordingly, unexpected encounters are understood as confrontations in which neither human nor bear is aware of each other’s presence until they abruptly encounter each other in close proximity. In Yellowstone National Park, 97% of bear attacks were due to such an unexpected encounter (Gunther et al. 1998; s. "More Info"). Provocations are the second most common reason for bear attacks (Floyd 1999). Especially hunters and wildlife photographers are regular victims of this kind of attacks. Attacks as a predator are defined as confrontations in which the victim is seen as a source of food and prey for the bear. This accounted for 90% of black bear attacks (Floyd 1999) and occurred almost exclusively in very remote regions where bears rarely or never had encounters with humans (Herrero et al. 1990).

Through the described studies, case reports and investigations after incidents with big game, both general and specific animal species related behaviors have been derived, which should prevent an encounter or a serious confrontation. These are presented below.

General rules and behavior

Even a few but important behaviors can provide the necessary safety on the road. In general, the rule should be "fearless, but respectful" (Hoh 2009)! Furthermore it is valid: wild animals are wild animals! This is to say that wild animals are not animals to be touched, fed, or for close-up vacation photos.

Kupper (2010) advises especially newcomers to the wilderness to choose as a destination areas or national parks where you can easily observe the diverse and interesting wildlife from the car, since cars are usually not a target of attack by wildlife and you are relatively safe in them. Exceptions are elephants, African buffalos and rhinos, which have often attacked cars and their occupants. The rule here is to keep the engine running and be ready to retreat. For the popular walking safaris, an experienced and armed guide should lead the safari. Not only does this provide protection, but most guides and rangers are happy to share their knowledge of the local flora and fauna.

Other basic rules

  • Always be alert!
  • In all areas where wildlife is potentially present, one should always be alert. Wild animals can appear suddenly anywhere, but often they are not noticed or are recognized late, z. B. Animals resting in the shade or in tall grass. Herds of fleeing animals should be watched carefully: Normally, animals stand and lie motley in the landscape. If they all look in one direction and the lying animals stand up, there is a potential danger from that direction – even if the visitor cannot see anything!
  • Do not sneak up on wildlife!
  • A sudden encounter, without the wild animal having previously sensed the person (wind direction), can trigger a kind of panic reaction in the animal, which can be answered either with flight, but also with immediate attack of the wild animal. In such a situation even a flight animal, for example an antelope, can become a dangerous opponent!
  • Be aware!
  • Even if no wild animals are sighted, there may be unexpected visitors behind the next bush. You should always make yourself noticed, so that a wild animal takes notice of you. This can avoid a surprise for the animal and also the visitor.
  • Consider direction of escape!
  • Wildlife, alone or in herds, should never be denied the opportunity to escape. Even otherwise very peaceful wild animal species can turn to dangerous attacks without a possibility of escape. For example, it is important to be careful with animals that seek safety primarily in water (z. B. hippos), never getting between them and the water. In the same way, one should not come between the bush and the animal if it sees its escape possibility in the protection of the trees, as is the case with elephants or antelopes (Kupper 2010).
  • Know threatening gestures!
  • Knowledge of the different threatening gestures of wild animals is a decisive advantage. This allows you to see how the animal is feeling towards the visitor. At the first sign of threatening gestures, the visitor should let the wild animal have its territory and move away slowly but surely.
  • Never get between young animal and mother!
  • Almost all parents protect their young to the utmost, and this is especially true for big game. Never step too close to young animals or even between young animal and mother. This would probably provoke an immediate attack. This applies even if the mother animal is not visible – it is certainly in the immediate vicinity! It is problematic when young animals in their inexperience explore the world and possibly run towards the visitor, which the older animals do not like at all. It is best to stay away from young animals in general ( Fig. 1).
  • Special caution with sick, wounded and old animals!
  • Sick, wounded, and old animals are unpredictable and especially dangerous because their behavior cannot be assessed (Kupper 2010). Often these animals are too weak for their usual hunt and have to deviate from their natural prey pattern to survive, which can be dangerous for humans as well.

Special rules and behaviors


  • Always stay in the car!
  • During a safari, people should stay in the car and preferably keep the windows closed (Durrheim et al. 1999). People outside the car are easy prey for lions, especially for weakened animals.
  • Know threatening gestures!
  • Correct interpretation of lion behavior is important ( Fig. 2): If a lion is lying z. B. relaxed on its back and has seen the person, it does not yet feel threatened. If the lion then lies down on its belly and fixes the person, one should retreat slowly. If the lion then starts roaring or shows its teeth, great caution and retreat is advised (Kupper 2013). If the lion stands up and swings its tail violently, the attack is imminent.
  • Do not flee!
  • Attacks are additionally provoked by the escape of po-tenial victims (Freer 2007). A wait-and-see attitude in a calm position and a quiet retreat without fixing the animal with the eyes is recommended.
  • Do not fight!
  • People who survived a lion attack reported that it would be advisable to let the lion chew on an extremity because of the possibility that it would lose interest (Freer 2007).


  • Do not get too close!
  • Incidents with elephants almost always occur out of situations where humans get too close to the animal and it feels threatened as a result. Be it on foot or by car – it is important to keep your distance and to enjoy the observation calmly from a good distance. If an elephant changes its behavior when you approach it (for the most part, you suddenly see restless movements), you have invaded its privacy and you should definitely back off a few feet. In most cases, the animal then immediately becomes calm again.
  • Knowing threatening gestures!
  • Elephants usually show their displeasure before an attack: they put their ears wide open, kick the ground and lean back and forth. In addition, they trumpet loudly through an upright proboscis (Durrheim et al. 1999). At this point at the latest, one should quickly but calmly move away from the animal.


  • Be careful with children!
  • Most often, children or sick adults are attacked, as they are considered particularly easy prey by these big cats (Freer 2007). You should-be especially careful.
  • Keep windows and doors closed!
  • Since leopards tend to climb through open doors and windows, it is recommended that doors, windows, and tents always be carefully closed (Durrheim et al. 1999).
  • Know threatening gestures!
  • If a leopard is lying on the ground with its head down and its eyes closed, there is initially no danger. If one approaches further and the leopard raises its head and fixes on the person, caution is advised. If, as a next warning, he shows his teeth and puts on his ears slightly, a slow retreat should be undertaken immediately (s. Fig. 2) (Kupper 2010).
  • Fight back!
  • In the event of a leopard attack, aggressively fight back with all possible means to make the leopard retreat. Otherwise one has hardly a chance of survival.


  • Do not approach too close by boat!
  • Hippos are known for their aggressive behavior, especially when they feel harassed or see a threat to their young (Freer 2007). It is no problem for a hippopotamus to cut a canoe in half with its teeth.
  • Caution at dusk and early morning!
  • Hippopotamuses usually come out of the water to graze nearby. Thus, they often stay out of the water for 5-6 hours to feed (Durrheim et al. 1999). When making their way to and from the water, don’t stand in their way, as they won’t take detours and will trample anything that blocks their path.


  • Draw attention to yourself!
  • Within a bear’s territory, it is advantageous to behave loudly rather than sneaking through the woods. This prevents an unexpected encounter with a bear. It is often sufficient to talk to a companion in normal volume. Foghorns and bear bells can further reduce the likelihood of encountering a bear.
  • Be in groups of more than two!
  • Herrero clearly states in one of his studies that the risk of a bear attack is greater when walking alone or in pairs than in small groups. 22% of fatal attacks involved groups of two, and in 69% of cases the victim was traveling alone (Herrero et al. 2011).
  • Make campsites "bear-proof!
  • Bears are often attracted by food from trekkers. Especially the camp at night, where supplies are unpacked and cooked, poses a risk. Camp can be protected if the following is observed (Hoh 2009):
  • Provisions should be hung at a height of 3-4 m, preferably on a pole between two trees.
  • Provisions and cooking place as far as possible from the campground to set up, 50 to 100 m should be it.
  • Cooking should not be done in the tent. Also, do not use tents in a bear area that have been cooked in before.
  • The camp should always be kept clean, never leave food scraps, cooking utensils or similar lying around.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after cooking. Even a slight odor on hands or clothing, especially of fish, can lead uninvited visitors into the tent.
  • Do not run away, climb trees or scream!
  • Do not defend!
  • Lie on the ground, either in a lateral position with legs drawn up and arms protectively around the neck or in a prone position with legs extended and hands protectively over the neck. While doing so, spread elbows out to the sides and use body tension with arms and legs to prevent the bear from flipping you over ( Fig. 3). Here it is even an advantage if a backpack is still on and protects the back.
  • Do not look at or turn towards the bear during the attack. This could result in severe facial injuries. Hold position!
  • After the attack, remain in the same position for some time until it is certain that the bear is no longer in the vicinity.
  • Afterwards, estimate in which direction the bear has moved off and leave the area in the opposite direction.
  • Stand still, do not run away or climb trees.
  • Defense counts when attacking. Therefore, you should take any close object that could serve as a weapon. This can be stones, branches or similar, also hot frying pans have been used successfully!
  • Defend with a high degree of aggression. The weapons should be aimed at the attacker’s head, shouting and screaming until the bear leaves.


  • No sudden or rapid movements!
  • Quick movements, animated conversation, lively play (by children) can provoke cougar attack. Children are more often victims of such attacks than adults (Beier 1991).
  • Act bigger!
  • Individuals facing a possible cougar attack should try to appear taller. For example, objects such as sticks, backpacks or bags, or simply arms can be held above the head (Conrad 1992). Jackets can be stretched wide open. Children should be held in arms so that they appear taller and do not run off in panic.
  • Avoid passive behavior!
  • The person being attacked should not play dead or show passive behavior (Beier 1991). This could understand a cougar as easy prey.
  • Know threatening gestures!
  • Cougars are often not noticed by the victim prior to an attack. However, if you see the cougar before an attack, you should be able to interpret the following threatening gestures as such: The cougar skulks close to the ground with its ears flattened, growling and hissing while letting its tail swing (McKee 2003).
  • Aggressive defending!
  • If attacked by a cougar, the affected person and anyone else present should shout loudly or blow a whistle to intimidate the cougar. Furthermore, you should try to make the cougar retreat with an aggressive counterattack using hands, sticks or knives (McKee 2003).

American bison

  • Keep your distance!
  • Most cases of confrontation between humans and bison have resulted from visitors getting too close to the animal (Freer 2007). Intentions in most cases were to photograph bison at close range, pose for photos, feed or pet them (Conrad et al. 1994). However, even the gentle bison are big game animals that should not be approached too closely.


The risk for a confrontation with big game is low. However, various studies show that there are always incidents with wild animals in which humans are seriously injured or killed. It is not uncommon for victims to be tourists on safaris in big game areas or hikers and trekkers passing through wildlife territories. In this case, confrontations usually occur due to wrong behavior and insufficient outdoor knowledge or due to carelessness. Thus, it is important to prepare appropriately for a visit to a big game area. One should be aware of the general behavior in such an area and additionally acquire knowledge adapted to the occurring species. This is the only way to avoid unwanted encounters and attacks.


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