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Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

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macktheknife
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Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby macktheknife » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:00 pm

Most people visiting game parks have probably at some time had an encounter with elephant/s. What did you have to do, to avoid a potentially dangerous situation? :clap:
I suppose the best advice is to always think ahead when approaching elephant/s, however this is not always possible as one can encounter them around the next bend or when you least expect it!
I've had two encounters when I've had to reverse in order to make a getaway from a charging ellie and on other occasions (more so in Addo) been able to watch them peacefully as they cross within 1 - 2 metres in front or behind your vehicle.
On one occassion when having to reverse the ellie looked completely at ease with us being around and continued munching on some nearby bushes, and when around 10 - 15 metres from the car, it suddenly charged, and let me add that it was not a bull in musth and there was no mock charge! :naughty:
On another occassion after reversing we kept our distance and waited for him to wander off into the bush and warned two other vehicles coming past. They smiled after telling them and continued towards the ellie, and to their surprise also had to make a hasty retreat.
I have heard many theories relating to etiquette when around elephants, including the one "NEVER REVERSE" and would like more input from other forum mites relating to this matter and their experiences.
I've never had to pull a trailer when visiting Kruger and was glad about that on the two occassions I had to reverse to avoid an ellie :pray:

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby GlenD » Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:22 am

This is going to be a good thread lol!
I tow a trailer and dread the day I meet an angry elephant in front of me. How about other mites who tow, esp caravans.?

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette

Unread postby saraf » Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:45 am

On my last night in Kruger in November I was hoping to get back early to Sunset Dam for the last half hour before the gate closed.
We could actually see Sunset dam when we started seeing reversing lights and 2 bulls came a-wandering along the road.
They didn't look in a bad mood but would not let anyone pass.
By this time we were second in the queue, reversing every now and then when they came toward us.
I could see the occupant of the car in front of us was one of the duty managers at Lower Sabie restaurant (very distinctive shirt).
He tried to get passed a few times but they weren't having any of it.
Eventually after about 1/2 hour and 1 kilometre back down the road from where we started, the cavalry arrived from Lower Sabie.
Well one car with a couple of Tree employees blowing their horns, flashing their lights and banging the sides of the car.
The ellies shot off into the bush and about 100 cars flew off towards LS.
We were about 5 minutes late but the guard on the gate couldn't do a thing as car after car flocked in.
He did have a very bemused look on his face though.
It took about 10 mins for all the cars to get in.

I always wondered if they did the right thing. If the ellies had not gone into the bush but straight into one of the cars there would have been injuries, both to the elephants and the occupants of whatever car they hit.
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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby ndloti » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:16 pm

There is little evidence to support that elephants subscribe to a certain ettiquette (as in thread title - "Elephant Etiquette") - as I have experienced some to be quite polite towards humans , where at other times they have been known to charge without hesitation , and by humans I imply those that are not enclosed in a vehicle .

I think it has to do with their size and their complex personalities which makes them the the kings of the jungle .

Nonetheless they can at times be turned by shouting loudly and by throwing objects at them seems to change their minds .
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette

Unread postby Scouter » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:56 pm

Have had a few run-ins with disgruntled ellies in Kruger especially - got chased down over the causeway to Balule by one and once an ellie that we had stopped to look at happily munching on a tree next to the road near Letaba decided he'd had enough and pushed the huge tree over into the road directly behind the car and came flying after us - luckily I'd seen he was getting irritable and had told the SO to get moving - in his haste he stalled the car which was hair-raising to say the least :big_eyes:

Our latest drama was similar to Sarafs - last August about 3 or 4 km's out from LS at 20 to 6 ( gates close at 6) this HUGE ellie steps into the road in front of us - and won't let us past.
No cellphone reception so can't phone rest of party back at camp...can't get past....long story but we landed up reversing for almost 10km's (most of it in the pitch dark) till we got to the N'watimhiri causeway where we could pull of the road - and then waited for 5 min to see if ellie would arrive - only thing that came past was another car from the opposite direction obviously trying to get to Skukuza !!
We drove thankfully on our way (desperate for the loo as there were 3 women in the car :lol: ) and encountered the ranger coming to look for us about 100m before the turn off into the camp.
We got into camp at 7.30 pm - almost 2 hours of drama with this guy watching him break off branches and throw them in the road and go to the loo in the middle of the road...etc
We did try a few times to pass him while it was still light and another car behind us tried too but he wasn't having any of it..
Anyway, we have some nice blurry photos and video footage of him with slightly hysterical female voices in the background as evidence but the guard and ranger were perfectly understanding, so no fine - just shattered nerves all round and lots of envy from the other 8 family members who drove right past the ellie without seeing him lurking in the bushes beside the road... I don't think my sister-in-law from the UK will ever be the same after that :D
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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette

Unread postby Mabudu » Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:05 pm

Ha ha
Wow gotta love hearing everyones ellie stories.

We have only really had 1 scary experience with ellies, and that was Just after Croc Bridge heading towards Lower Sabie, we were not late for the gate, but needed to keep a steady speed of 30/40km to make the gate.

Well we we going along, when we saw a BMW coming towards us on our side of the road, we assumed there was a sighting on our side of the road and so all looked to the left.... (if you know the area, you'll know there are a few spots there with very thick bush)
We got to the spot where the BM was and well the sighting was on the right, a mother ellie with a new calf, and we were about 3 metres away. In a noisy diesel Landy, in the wrong gear to get away,
She turned around, made a very aggressive noise, and came as fast as she could towards us, we were not getting away on the road, so (and i know this is not in the rules) off road we went, driving over bushes, trees, and hoping for no Aardvark holes or similar.
She followed for a while moaning at us.
My S.O turned her head away trying to pretend that nothing was happening, which brought a bit of a smile to my face in a rather tense situation.
Since then I get really nervous coming around blind corners in thick bush.
Would have been nice of the other car to give us a bit of a warning. Ha ha but all in all I felt worse for the ellie which had its day ruined by us,
I don't blame her for coming as any mother with a calf will charge if you are too close, but there was nothing I could have done to avoid it.

I think this is our only time an elephant has really wanted to teach us a lesson!

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette

Unread postby kevjones » Sat Jun 05, 2010 8:53 am

The problem in Kruger is that many people judge or think they know about animal behaviour because of past experiences.
The elephants in Addo generally speaking are more placid than Kruger.

How many times have you heard the "I have been coming to the park for 200 years and this is what I do " go right ahead.
Now for the intelligent people out there here is some food for thought.

Don't you think that if there was a rule regarding Elephant do's and don'ts the rangers would of published a book that says do this or do that.
The reason there is not is because every situation is different, animal behaviour is generally not predictable.
Just because you could saunter up close to a grazing heard last time you were there does not mean that you can do it this time.

Sanparks published a set of really good guides and advice on the park entrance permit.
Unfortunately most people don't read it because it is given to you as you are starting your holiday and all you want is to get in and get spotting.

I agree with the poster above when I see an Elephant I stay at least 50m from him or her and I am ready to reverse as quickly as I can to be out of his or her space.
Why take the chance with you family and your vehicle just so you can brag about how close you got.
The other problem is if the Elephant damages you or your vehicle the chances are that the rangers will end up having to shoot it or even take out the whole family.
My advice is get a bigger lens follow the ranger's advice in your entry permit and stop listening to weekend rangers around the camp fire and don't forget we are guests in their environment and as such we should conduct ourselves accordingly.

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby Sprocky » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:14 pm

It is all about the "comfort zone". No, I am not talking as a weekend ranger, what is your comfort zone with a Mamba? What is your comfort zone with an ellie? :hmz:

If you have knowledge of the animal and it's behaviour your comfort zone could be larger or smaller than the next person. If you do not feel comfortable don't be there! Every person has their own limit, DON'T PUSH YOUR OWN ENVELOPE!!!!!! :rtm:

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby Sprocky » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:42 pm

H.E. :thumbs_up:

One thing I neglected to mention, and maybe the most important...

It is not so much about your comfort zone, but more, keeping out of the animals comfort zone. Once any animal changes it's behaviour patern, you have already infringed on it's comfort zone...this is when things go south. :wink:

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby GlenD » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:31 am

You will never know if the idiot that passed by 2 minutes before you arrived, irritated the elephant to such an extent that seeing you now he decides he's had enough or cars for the day.....keep that in mind too.

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette

Unread postby okie » Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:18 pm

A couple years ago , at Shingwedzi , taking a late afternoon drive down the S50 , we came to this big guy standing next to the road , quietly munching away .
He allowed us to go past him without a fuss .
Some time later , when we returned , he was still more or less in the same area , but now when we approached, he walked up to me his ears and trunk flapping.
We stopped and waited .
Another car and another came up and every time those " moves " from him saying " stay where you are .
Gate time approaching and still he kept on "menacing " every vehicle coming near him . :evil:
Then one driver charged passed him , and everybody followed one at a time, no problem .
It was as if he said " OK guys , I've had enough fun now , off you go now " . :whistle:
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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby Elsa » Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:48 am

On this latest trip, S108 we were stopped watching a small breeding herd feeding in the bushes on the right, all calm, finished watching them, slowly pulled off with at least 3 or 4 cars behind us.
Then a huge Bull Ellie comes into view ambling down the centre of the road towards us, stuff of nightmares!
Despite SO having the car in reverse no one backed up, effectively closing the road behind us.
No other option, SO pulled right over to the opposite edge of the road, switched the engine off, windows closed, no talking, except my knees knocking and heart pounding loud enough that I am sure the Ellie could hear. :roll:
He carried on walking towards us, sniffing the air until he got literally metres in front, then just veered off the road right next to us and disappeared into the bush.
What relief, I can tell you.

But I do think we were lucky, in this case the big guy was super relaxed and its not something I would either recommend or we normally do but due to peoples ignorance behind us left us with no other option. :roll:
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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby ndloti » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:06 pm

On S50 east of Shingwedzi there is a loop close to the bird hide that takes you to the rivers edge , I was once charged 3 times by a matriarch while boxed in by other vehicles at the end of the loop , each time she retreated about 50 - 100 m and returned .
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)

Unread postby okie » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:46 pm

Last month , we came onto a herd feeding next to the S26 . They were all feeding quietly except for one member who decided to show us who was the boss . Raised trunk , and flapping ears , he mock charged us a couple of times , then would retreat , backing into a bush , shake his head , and then again , make another mock charge .
Luckily for us , the rest of the herd seemed to ignore this whole incident , otherwise I think we could have been in real trouble . :pray: :pray:
This was really scary , and after taking a couple photographs , we " high-tailed " it out of there .
Tread softly , and let your departure not be spoiled by the damage of your arrival

Next :
3 - 6 Sept 2013 - Punda.
7 - 10 Sept 2013 -Shingwedzi .
11 - 13 Sept 2013 - Balule .
14 - 17 Sept 2013 - Satara .

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Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette

Unread postby Mabudu » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:21 pm

With stories of people being blocked in by other cars, a few years ago a bull ellie was strolling towards us and we reversed for about 15min.
Eventually we reversed a long way and switched off hoping he would get bored with tormenting us.
Anyway while stopped there a double cab came next to us and we explained the situation,
There where 2 guys in it built like houses, looked like they knew the bush pretty well.
"Don't worry" they said, and drove on.
Well my S.O and I looked at each other and said "he obviously knows what he's doing".
We had no sooner started the car to follow and around the corner at a huge pace came this Bakkie in reverse.
He pulled up next to us and said "no kidding" and continued reversing.
We must have laughed for a good half hour, still in reverse of course. :lol:


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