The Zambezi Society
The Zambezi Society( www.zamsoc.org) conserving the wildlife and wilderness values of the Zambezi River has produced a Code of Conduct for visitors in wilderness areas with Nine Principles called RESPECT THE WILD and they are:
1. PLAN AHEAD
Obtain a map and find out as much as you can about the geography, weather, access routes, wild animals etc. of the wild place you are visiting.
If you are unfamiliar with the area, consider taking along someone who knows it well.
Prepare to be self-sufficient and accept that there are risks involved. Plan for emergencies and for how to get help if you need it.
Allow time to reach your destination in daylight for your own safety and watch out for nocturnal animals on roads and paths.
Pack no-fuss equipment and meals to minimize impacts, fire risk and waste (e.g. gas/spirit cooker, pre-cooked meals, small spade, lightweight tent etc.).
Take precautions against mosquitoes (pills, nets, repellent etc.) to avoid malaria.
2. MINIMISE TRACKS
Use existing tracks, trails or pathways.
Avoid driving vehicles off-road.
Drive slowly and keep to speed limits.
When driving or hiking, avoid making impacts on soft soils, wetlands, and vleis and rather choose durable surfaces such as rock, sand, compacted soil, dry grass, etc.
Stand or sit still and wait for animals to come to you rather than walking, or driving in search of them.
3. CAMP WITH CARE
Choose accommodation that has a minimum ecological footprint and is wilderness-sensitive e.g. basic chalets or camping. Use official campsites if possible.
Avoid damage to trees, bushes, soils and rocks if making your own campsite.
Avoid camping in places used by large animals (on paths, beside pans where they drink or in favoured grazing areas e.g. alongside river beds).
4. REMOVE ALL LITTER AND FOOD
Never throw litter, cigarettes or food into the wild, or from a vehicle.
Best practice: what you take in, you take out.
Use an empty can as an ashtray.
Carry light plastic bags for collecting all litter, cans, bottle tops and left-over food (even that left by others) for later disposal.
Secure food and rubbish bags away from wildlife in a closed vehicle or tamperproof container (e.g. metal trunk). Wild animals attracted by food may lose fear, become dependent and sometimes aggressive, resulting in them being destroyed as problem animals.
Avoid discarding organics that biodegrade slowly (e.g. citrus peels) or contain seeds that could introduce non-wild plant species, (e.g. guavas, tomatoes, etc.) Bag for later disposal.
If you do burn litter, remove remaining plastic, tin cans, bones etc. for carry-out.
5. MANAGE WASTE PROPERLY
Avoid soap or chemicals and do not wash dishes in water sources. Fill a container with washing water and discard after use at least 100 paces away from water on bare ground where it will not affect plants or animals.
Prevent disease: do not urinate in rivers, lakes or pans.
Bury all human waste away from water sources and pathways in a small hole dug at least 15cms deep in soil with plenty of leaf compost around it. Carry a small spade for this purpose. Toilet paper is slow to biodegrade: use leaves if possible, but if not, burn soiled paper in the hole without setting fire to the surrounding bush. Cover carefully with soil and leaves. NEVER leave human waste or toilet paper exposed on the ground this is unhygienic, defaces the landscape, and is unpleasant for others and harmful to animals.
6. BE CAREFUL WITH FIRES
Best practice: no fires. Use a gas or spirit stove.
If you must light a fire, keep it small and never leave it unattended. Bring your own firewood and use a designated campsite fireplace. If none, make a ring of stones. Clear an open spot away from surrounding or overhanging vegetation. Remove dry grass or leaves and use only fallen, dead wood. Do not break healthy branches.
Do not light a fire in a strong wind.
Always damp down glowing embers with water at night, or if you leave camp.
Remove all signs of your fireplace when you leave.
Bury dry ashes and cover with sand.
Return stones to where you found them.
7. LEAVE NATURE NATURAL
Leave all rocks, trees, plants, animals, pottery, archaeological, historic and cultural artefacts as you find them, so that future visitors may enjoy their discovery too.
Take only photographs; leave only footprints.
Carving or painting on trees or rocks damages and disfigures nature and is unsightly for other visitors.
Never remove or collect plants, as this can damage the whole biology of a wild area.
8. GIVE WAY TO ANIMALS
Most wild animals and snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them, but they may attack if startled. Walk quietly in the wild with your senses FULLY aware. Use binoculars, keep your distance, and try to pass downwind of large animals so that they do not catch your scent.
If you come unexpectedly close, stand still and stay calm. Try not to scream or shout for help. Wait for them to move off. If they do not, back off very slowly to a safe distance.
Learn to tell when an animal is aroused, or distressed, and get out of danger quickly and safely. If charged, do not run (lions will chase you) unless in extreme situations: stand your ground, make yourself look bigger by waving your arms wide and shout loudly. If this fails, seek the nearest cover (tree/anthill, etc.)
Never touch the young/nest/eggs of a wild creature. It may abandon them.
Never interfere with nature's course. It may seem hard, but accept that it is natural for prey to get caught, killed and eaten, trees to get felled by elephants, the fittest to survive.
Do not swim or wade in water in wild places. Crocodiles are rarely visible and are the Earth's most successful and longest-surviving predators!
9. ENJOY PEACE AND SOLITUDE
One reason why people seek out wild areas is to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and other people. Respect the need of others who wish to experience the tranquillity of the wild.
Loud noises and bright lights can be disturbing to animals and other people. Avoid them. Do not shout, do not play radios/music, do not talk loudly on a cell phone, and do not sound your vehicle horn.
Never use a generator when camping in a wild place. This is an act of extreme selfishness.
Do not crowd animals with vehicles or boats. Keep a respectful and safe distance and switch off your engine.
Sit still, watch and let your senses become sharpened by the peace and solitude of the wild. You will feel more instinctively in touch with your surroundings than ever before.