Serengeti bans Hitch-hiking Cheetahs

It was scary at first, then people started getting used to cheetahs jumping onto safari cars. Eventually they would even take selfie shots with the cats, posting them online thus encouraging the new craze…

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Cheetahs jumping onto Safari vehicles for a ride or simply as sport can be interesting right? Well wrong.

At least it is now being discouraged in Tanzania, where the Serengeti National Park management has just moved in to stop such juvenile antics, as the world ushers into the New Year 2022.

The Serengeti officials have, issued an official directive instructing drivers of tour vans to stop entertaining cheetahs jumping onto their Safari Vehicles for whatever reason.

The circular is also including tips for the guides on how to prevent such hitch-hiking acts from the cats, including driving away from the approaching animals and even making noises to wade them away, should the situation call for it.

The Acts of Cats

As it happens, in some selected cases, the cats will coincidentally jump onto the vehicles, as they drive near them in the parks.

However, it has come to light that some tour guides and their drivers have also been encouraging incidences of ‘wild cats’ jumping on cars. They do this by driving off-tracks and right into where the cheetahs happen to be.

Tips after the tripping trips?

“Driver-guides have been adopting this as a way of entertaining tourists. They do it with the aim of earning better tips after the trips,” says a local tour guide in Arusha, who preferes anonymity.

According to some other tour operators who were interviewed, the incidences of cheetahs jumping onto Safari Vehicles for rides or even just for the sake of it, were notorious in Kenya.

In fact, according to them, they were almost a staple in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

But as selfies with hitch-hicking cats started going viral, it suddenly became a fad, spreading to Tanzania, with tourists craving for photos with the cheetahs patched on car roofs. Sometimes the photos will be taken in a single frame with the cats that have slipped into the vehicles, sitting alongside visitors.

The New Craze has been so popular such that most local tour drivers decided to capitalize on it.

They have been taking tourists to where coalitions of cheetahs happen to be relaxing or hunting in the parks, hoping to get the cats climb onto vehicles so as to entertain the iPhone flashing visitors.

Unlike Kenya, however, Tanzania is not encouraging this Disneyland type of tourism in the country’s National Parks and the Management of Serengeti is already acting on this. Other parks and reserves may soon follow suit.

As far as the recent dispatch from the Park Management however, the Cheetahs that climb onto cars are usually young cats aged between 10 months and 2 years and will possibly grow out of the behavior, but sometimes even adult Cheetahs may retain such acts once they get over habituated.
Cheating with a Cheetah? Wildlife Tourism as far as the Serengeti Management is concerned should remain just that, ‘wild adventures,’ not some disney type of excursions featuring tamed and dumb animals.
A Cheetah in action, in Serengeti, this is how the wild cats should be acting in the wilderness as captured by Marco Michael Jasper

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