500,000 Pets take to the skies in Africa

Posted on September 2, 2016 07:51 pm

Have traveled a couple of times with pets from one continent to another but there’s no continent that beats Africa when it comes to welcoming folks who have pets.As a result of my experiences here and there, I would like to share some of the things I learned along the way.The most important things is taking your pet to the vet for a check-up. For airlines flying across Africa to accept your pet for travel, they must be more than eight weeks old, appear to be in good health and not show signs of undue aggression.When it comes to the vet, they ensures pet’s health and their vaccinations, worming and flea and tick treatments meets the standard required in different African countries. The vet should provide a certificate for a clean bill of health as you may be required to show it when you check your pet in for their journey. Most vets do not recommend sedating pet prior to travel and airlines may not accept a sedated animal. There are natural calmers to help the pet if it is particularly hyperactive, but this should be handled with the vet during pre-flight visit. Many vets have pet First Aid Kits available for purchase, great for unexpected injury or illness.Pets travelling in Africa in containers approved by the International Air Transport Association faces less hurdles. When it comes to containers, I always purchase my own depending on how often me and my pet are likely to travel.For domestic and short-haul journeys like from Zambia to Uganda or Tanzania to South Africa or Namibia to Botswana, plastic and steel mesh containers are always the suitable choices, while metal or wooden crates may be more suitable for travelling long-haul say from Australia to Finland or from Denmark to Africa. Its crucial to certainly ensure plenty of room for the pet to stand up fully and lie down inside.Containers come in various shapes, sizes and styles and include secured drinking cups so the pet can stay hydrated during the journey. Some containers are already fitted with protective kennel mats which can absorb liquids and odours although in my case I prefer to purchase it separately.

 Precision Airline at Kiliminjaro Airport in this picture i took couple of years back
Precision Airline at Kiliminjaro Airport in this picture i took couple of years back

Getting the pet comfortable with their container is the best thing I have done to calm their nerves. My niece who is also a pet lover and regular traveler, taught me how placing pet’s favourite toy or a comfort item such as an old vest with my smell on it in the container and encourage them to sleep in it, explore it makes them comfortable with it at home. Taking pet on a few short drives in the container also helps them become used to travelling in it. Going for a walk or playing with the pet before heading off to their airport to tire them out is advisable.The vet i have been engaging has always advised me not to give the pet a meal from at least six hours before the flight and not to give them plenty of water.Also, he has always advised to ensure comfort item in the container and access to water and there is a waterproof mat inside.In South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, its very critical to bring their vet original certificate and their ID should be attached to collar on the outside of their crate.Crucially, I always pack toys, food, leash and medication for the trip and since am a single bloke, I accord them plenty of attention and keep them calm.In Tanzania and South Africa, after pet check in, they are taken to the freight or cargo area. Airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways have staff trained in pet travel and they have cared for my precious cargo on my journeys.They either accept them as cargo or checked baggage and pets travelling securely in the aircraft hold which i have learned over the years that it is a climate controlled space perfectly safe for animals. For those who don’t know, the hold is usually located under the main cabin or at the front or rear of some aircraft. The area is pressurised, just like the cabin, and most pets sleep comfortably during the trip. The cabin crew do not access the hold during the flight, but the ground staff ensures the pet is securely loaded on board and are unloaded as soon as possible after landing. In South Africa and Botswana, as well as Zambia, it is important to check with flight centre consultant to find out where to collect the pet after their sky-high safari. Like check-in, Ethiopian Airline require you to go to the cargo or freight section as opposed to the checked baggage area. After they are out and about, its cool idea to give them a little light exercise, keep them hydrated and treat them to a good meal.If in Ethiopia and you have cable-tied your pet’s container and Ethiopian Airlines require that you do so, I advise you pack a pair of scissors in checked baggage to grant the pet freedom as soon as possible.Hope my brief views helps you as a pet traveler in Africa where there are more 500,000 pets taking to the skies annually.

Contador Harrison