Well, perhaps ‘wildlife’ is a not 100% accurate but the same caution is advised.
Generally people in Urban and Rural areas have dogs. Either as pets that provide security or just as security.
In informal settlements the same is true but there is also a greater chance of stray animals.
As this article is aimed at increasing awareness for travellers I will only concentrate on possible negative encounters.
You are sure to meet many gentle loving dogs that are happy and healthy whether their owners are rich or poor. Many will be gentle giants as we seem to like large dogs in South Africa!
Dog attacks are relatively common but no always serious. Remember most dogs are kept and train for security. They cannot always tell a well intentioned visitor from an intruder.
It is best to never open a gate and enter a fenced property without first making sure that there are either no dogs present or making sure that the home owner is aware of your presence. Rather call out for the occupants from outside the yard. Dogs barking behind a fence are safer than dogs rushing at you in an enclosed yard.
When you see dogs alone (without human supervision) out on the street, one is generally safer than many. Groups of dogs seem to get excited more easily and are more likely to approach you and/ or bite/ nip at your trousers etc.
If you are planning to walk through an unknown area wear sturdy shoes and trousers that cover your legs. Avoid carrying food, especially meat – hungry dogs will be quick to smell you out!
A firm voice can help is most situations but rather avoid unknown animals if you can.
Should you be bitten or attacked, seek medical attention. Dogs can spread tetanus and in some areas rabies has not yet been eradicated. It is also advisable to seek counselling. Dog attacks can have long lasting traumatic effects.
Please report any loose animals to the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The SPCA is equipped to collect and care for strays but donations are always appreciated to help with running costs, especially food.
Dogs on beaches are most often there with supervising owners and present less of a possible threat.
If you are planning to travel with your dog, please keep your dog on a lead. Keep in mind that in rural areas you are likely to find small stock animals like goats, chickens and pigs. These animals are often all the wealth the rural family has and death or damage due to dogs can result in an angry first response.
Many commercial farmers will shoot unknown dogs on sight should they be seen near livestock, especially when there are young animals to protect.