Lost in the African Bush: A Survival Manual for Obtaining Food & Water

by Sandy Salle on February 5, 2013

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Unless you (foolishly) go out into the African bush or desert on your own, you should never find yourself in a situation where you’re lost in the wilderness of Africa alone.

But, for those bizarre circumstances or highly adventurous individuals (who should be trained in survival skills), here are a few general tips for surviving in Africa’s wilderness on your own:

Find water: Without water, humans will die within two or three days. Therefore, it’s essential to look for water, but also to get to a water source in an efficient fashion.

From shivering to keep warm to walking and sitting in a hot sun to being at a high altitude, our bodies perspire quickly, making it essential for us to consume water frequently to replace the water we expel. So, when looking for a water source, conserve as much water as possible by traveling during the cooler parts of the day or night, and don’t eat salty foods / beverages or consumer alcohol (although I’m sure you’ll want to drown your worries in it).

Water in Africa’s wildernesses can often be contaminated with parasites and other microorganisms, so you must purify the water before drinking it. The easiest way to purify water is by boiling it for at least one minute in a pot. If you do not have any means for purifying the water, you have to make the decision to either survive at that moment and risk the potential for diseases later (which, for the most part, can be treated once you’re found), or, well, wait to get a water bottle that you know contains purified water!

When you do find a freshwater source, fill up any container you might have with the water. If you do not have a container, it would be wise to stay where your water source is, drinking small amounts of water every hour. Keep your eyes out for predators that can be found in lakes and rivers, including hippos and crocodiles.

Fish also contain drinkable water, which can be found in their spinal columns. Water found in plant vines is drinkable, as well, and does not need to be purified. And, of course, rain is always a purified drinking option. But, if you find yourself in the African desert, this might be hard to come by.

Always avoid drinking saltwater, blood, and urine.

Nourish your body with food: The best things to eat when you’re stranded in the African bush are the items that contain carbohydrates, since this gives your body energy, as well as protein, which can be found in fish and animal meat. Fat is also essential for survival and is burned off over a longer period of time, providing your body with a larger energy source. Fats can be found in animal fat and eggs.

Depending on where you are in the African bush, there are a variety of animals that can be killed for their meat, but the easiest ones to obtain include bugs and fish (many African snakes are poisonous, therefore, do not attempt to capture a snake for consuming). Also, look for bird nests and consume the eggs found within them. The birds can also be eaten.

Stay clear of any unfamiliar plants and mushrooms.

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