Monday, 25 August 2014

Roger Lever - Wildlife – safe space

Many species of wildlife have what they call a safe space which is the distance they will allow another animal to approach before exiting that space. You will have noticed that some birds will allow you to approach them and then once you are too close they take flight. Sometimes if they are familiar with another animal they will break these rules and reduce that safe distance.

In the African bush you can get nearer to the wildlife in a vehicle because they are used to seeing vehicles on a regular basis (plus there is an element of camouflage for us humans.) Dangerous animals will of course not flee but may attack and that is not a good position to be in.

We have our own safe space and we take flight or back off if such an animal gets too close. Various scenarios evolve in these situations as you might imagine.

One of my most recent experiences at trying to break the rules was on a trip to Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides. The seals collecting on the beach every morning would only allow me to walk so near before hightailing it back into the water. I thought I might try to fool them into thinking I was something a bit different by crawling towards them on my tummy.

Camera in hand I set off on my commando raid. I approached the bunch of 20 seals stopping occasionally to take a photograph. Amazingly they would look at me and decide that I was not a threat. I approached to within 10 metres took my photographs and prepared to move closer, keen to see if I could get in amongst them. I was succeeding but suddenly they all became alert and scurried off into the surf.

Why, when I was getting so close? I sat up looked round and realised a boat had approached the beach which I hadn’t heard.

My experiment had been thwarted. It was my last day so I didn’t get another chance.

Next time!

Roger Lever

1 comment:

  1. love the little bit of education in your blog as well as the photos. My favourite is the second from last. If only we could speak their language. I wonder what he/she was thinking?