Not many people know this, but the first one is certainly more dangerous. The latter hardly attacks adults (the fatal attacks of the hippo are about 60 times more… and are even greater than those of lions).

Travel and Mass Media Terrorism against animals!

It always saddens me to see documentaries, sometimes produced by authoritative names such as National Geographic, in which the potential attacks on humans by some innocent animals are mixed up. There is one, in particular, that has aroused in my anger and hilarity at the same time. The documentary begins with a man about to wrap himself in a sort of shell and sprinkle himself with an imaginary liquid that should instigate an anaconda to attack and swallow it. You can see at a certain point the anaconda that wraps around the casing (and from personal experience I assure you that it is really easy to twist a snake around something). Also explicit are the shots of the man-made from the inside of the shell. But strangely enough, despite the numerous and very good professional cameramen of the service, there is no scene in which you see explicitly the anaconda ingesting the body. But how strange… They must have had a coffee break in those very minutes.

In general, there is not only an exaggeration on the predatory arts of the animals that most stimulate our imagination… but also on the less “popular” ones. I’ll tell you a little story. During one of my shortest trips, simply in central Italy, I saw a porcupine in difficulty, it may seem incredible but she had been bitten, perhaps by a dog. I tried to help her to see what state she was in and eventually call the forester to hospitalize her in a refuge. A local farmer tried to stop me in every way screaming and screaming that if I got too close the animal would throw the thorns. It is useless to explain to him that no animal in the world throws its spines, much less its porcupine.

These are just a few examples of how demonised animals are. Let’s think about what the film “The Shark” did to that beautiful animal. Everyone believes that these wonderful beings, whom I have had the good fortune to meet several times personally, swim in the oceans in search of victims to prey on as soon as they feel, even at great distances, the smell (given their ability to feel a molecule of blood dissolved in thousands of liters of water – something that he really needs to look for wounded fish in order to have an easy meal). I can assure you that this is not the case, and not just from personal experience. Of the hundreds of millions of people who swim in the oceans only about sixty, a year are attacked by sharks. And only five of these attacks are fatal. Incredible but true: the placid (and for many savoury peoples) cow kills more humans than the large marine predators surrounded by their reputation as murderers. In the United States alone (the country with the highest number of shark attacks) about 20 people, a year are killed by cows. And they are not road accidents or fortuitous cases, but intentional attacks. So the cow kills four times more sharks in the United States than sharks kill worldwide, not to mention the 100 million or so sharks we kill.

Travel and Terrorism against animals, what’s changing!

Finally, things are changing. Thanks to a famous biologist (with a top model physique…), Ocean Ramsey (and the invention of GoPro…) the fact that white sharks are not bloodthirsty beasts is finally becoming known to most (the operators of the field already know it well). You can easily find online numerous videos in which Ocean Ramsey lets himself be carried by these wonderful creatures, attached to their dorsal fin during his apnea.  That’s something I’ve been trying to say for a dozen years, proven by the Addison brothers’ cageless dives in South Africa, and by my direct field experience. If you’re lucky enough to visit the Western Cape, you’ll see how difficult it is to bring sharks closer despite the continuous grazing. And if you take a flight to admire the coast of Mossel Bay from above, especially in summer, you can see the silhouette of dozens of huge white sharks swimming a few hundred meters from the coast full of bathers, kayak surfers are so on. Just imagine how easy it would be for them to feed on humans who are virtually defenceless in the water, compared to seals that are fast and agile.

It is clear that you have to be very careful and that the accident is always around the corner. You need to know the animals, their behaviour and above all respect them. It is also true that sometimes special situations occur when animals eat humans. Imagine a serial killer. This does not mean that all men are serial killers. You have to distinguish a fatality, an episode, from the norm and be wary of the terror that shows or sensationalistic films try to incite us.

There’s nothing more beautiful than meeting an animal in the wild. There are ways to do it respectfully and without risk, you need to be an expert, know how to behave and pay close attention. Sometimes you have to be patient, but whatever the sacrifice, it’s always worth it.

Let me spend the last words to promote trips that allow the encounter with these beautiful creatures, or the so-called “handling”, whether it’s sharks, big cats or other First of all you have to avoid places that hold these animals to exploit them and earn money with naive tourists who simply want to depopulate on social networks. Usually, it is easy to recognize them from the high prices and the way they keep the animals or, more simply, from the images that derive from them. Often, however, there are situations in which animals have grown up as family members or are helped, saved and used as ambassadors to make it clear to a large part of the population that they are not monsters.

Experience teaches!

Now I will make a strong statement on which I feel to take all the responsibility and to argue with anyone: any animal (however with a minimum of brain development) even what may appear more ferocious if he grew up with men or somehow accustomed to their presence behaves absolutely like a dog … often even better. At worst, like a cat.

The episodes that I have experienced in this sense are many, thank goodness, and many can be understood simply by looking at some of my photos. You will also probably know the story of the Christian lion and other similar ones. But I want to close this article by telling you about a less popular episode that happened to Roberto Bubas, a naturalist photographer from Patagonia. In the Valdes peninsula, in the province of Chubut, killer whales prey on seals as far as the beach, and it is sadly known the video, obviously false, in which a human being is shown as a prey. Roberto Bubas, called Beto after a long time spent photographing this phenomenon felt as accepted by these huge and fatal predators. And so slowly, day after day he approached the shore until he entered the water with his killer whales. It may seem crazy to you, but,  the risk taken by Beto was very low. These animals unjustly apostrophized with the nickname of killer whales have never attacked man in nature. The only five fatal episodes have happened in captivity and, with all respect and sorrow for the innocent victims, we cannot blame an animal of 10 tons, locked without reason in what for him is a bathtub, if sometimes it freaks out. The killer whales are so sensitive that they lower definitively the dorsal fin when placed in captivity.

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