There are over 3000 species in the African Savannah and negotiating the area, especially at night, can be fraught with dangers. Accidents involving wild animals happen every year, so it is unwise to be alone in the area, especially if you are unfamiliar with the territory. But if you are stranded in the region without a guide, or transport, there are several things you can do to find food and survive.
When stranded you should keep an eye out for food and once you have located water it will be easier to find a food source. In the surrounding area you may come across fruit and berries, but before biting into the fruit you should check to make sure it is safe to eat. Here’s one way of proceeding:
- Break open the fruit and if it smells of almonds or peaches you should avoid it.
- If the fruit passes the smell test you should rub the fleshy part of the fruit on your skin. If within a minute you come up in a rash needless to say it is not safe to eat.
- You should then brush the fruit on your lips. If it burns, throw it away.
- Next, if the fruit has passed all these tests you should put it on your tongue, but don’t swallow anything yet. If it irritates your tongue then it is not edible.
- Finally, if the fruit is still okay you should take a single bite. Wait a few hours and if you are sick then the fruit is a no no.
- If after all these tests you feel okay you can eat the fruit.
Edible Fruits and Useful Plants Found in Africa:
– Abal (shrub; North Africa). Its flowers can be eaten, and contain high concentrations of both sugar and nitrogen.
– Acacia (tree; prominent throughout Africa). You can eat its leaves, flowers and pods (either raw or cooked).
– Baobab (unmistakable tree; quite common throughout Africa). You can eat the root, the fruit pulp, the leaves (in a soup) and even the seeds that can be ground for flour.
– Beech (tree; North Africa). Beech pods produce edible beechnuts once you remove the shell and white kernel within. Beechnuts have a sweet flavor and high oil content.
– Common Guarri (shrub; South Africa). Black fruits are edible, while the bark can be used to get rid of headaches. Interesting bonus: you can fray the twigs to make a toothbrush.
– Marula (tree; common species). Very tasty fruit, out of which the famous Amarula liquor is made.
– Monkey Orange (tree; most common in woodlands). Round fruit with hard shell. Easily crackable, and very juicy flesh. NB: Do not chew the soft seeds as they are poisonous.
– Raisin Bush (shrub; mainly Southern Africa). Bushmen people use the branches to make bows, arrows and friction sticks to make fire. Raisin Bush berries are edible, the leaves can be used for tea, whilst the bark is often utilized to make rope.
– Wild Melon (creeper; arid and semi-arid regions of Africa; known as “Tsamma” in the Kalahari). Looks pretty much like the usual melon variety. Could be a life saver when stuck in the middle of nowhere due to its high water content. Both the seeds and skin can also be eaten when roasted.
You should never wander off alone in the Savannah; the trained guides who take you on safari know the land like the back of their hands, so you should not get lost when with them. Remember to be safe and don’t wander off. Let’s hope you never need these tips. 😉