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 Post subject: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:00 pm 
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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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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:54 pm 
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H. erectus wrote:
This will not be "never reverse", however never run from a elephant, in other words you are afraid or in recession to him/her. When they find you submissive
they will put you to the test. Great beasts they are
and that goes for any animal.
Avoid a situation/confrontation!?


As H said....This will not be "never reverse",


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:22 am 
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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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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:57 am 
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There is an easy rule: be prepared.
Just 2 words, but they cover every situation. ;)

When ellies are playful they can play tricks on you. I found a nice video of an elephant hiding in the bushes and charging a car coming around the corner which neatly shows what they can do. I'll try to find it again.

When they charge, or follow you uneasily, it means you are too close! So get back a little further till it/they wander off into the bush and start munching again.

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:45 am 
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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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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:09 am 
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Weltenman wrote:
I hope I wont hijack the thread, but an tips for a newbie driver for the Kruger on Elephants and the other big boys?

Rather orient yourself so you can drive forward out of the situation instead of reversing.

If there's a busy sighting close to the road, try make sure no-one blocks your escape route, so you can get out if things go south.

Switch off your engine if they're close (been told that many times by several experts)

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:02 pm 
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Once we were on a gravel road when we encountered a large herd of Ellies in the road in front of us.
There was a young bull probably about 16-20 years old that felt he was going to show us.
He started charging but could see it was a warning charge (generally you should stand still to these young bulls otherwise they wont stop bullying you) but my brother in law was driving so he backed up quickly, we then approached again as the bull had gone into the bush and he came charging out and chased us back, after the third time of this happening as we were backing up.
I looked in the rear view mirror and saw we were enclosed in Ellies and we cant go back as there are some angry mothers coming from that side now and there is this guy coming from the front... So we had to floor it and hope for the best, to our great relief and very funny the young bull made the strangest trumpeting "whimpering sound" and the fastest U-turn you could imagine and with tail held high ran into the bush....

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:16 pm 
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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 .

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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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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:56 pm 
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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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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:31 pm 
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In March, our friends could not understand why I made a u-turn at an elephant sighting.
We were the first car there and our friends behind us (too close for me to reverse).
In front of us was a breeding herd crossing the road with their babies and next to us were adults.
The herd were very aware of us and we were closely watched by the adults.
More and more cars were piling up behind me and I could see that if charged I would have no escape.
I quietly and slowly made a u-turn, rather wanting to observe them behind us.
Everyone thought I was mad but hey, I know that a situation like that can turn pear shaped in a second.


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:41 pm 
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Location: Milano (Italy) - IT ALL STARTED WITH A FOOTSTEP!
An ex poacher once told me ellies were terrified by the human voice and the smell of fuel (diesel). To show me how much they hated the smell of fuel he dropped a wet cloth, diesel, close to some ellies and as soon as they got close they smelt it and reacted angrily and quickly moved away.

I've experienced a few very very close encounters with ellies and the few times I really found them ready for a charge was when driving a noisy diesel land cruiser, probably they hate engine noise/smell and irritates them a lot!

I agree on standing and confronting and only time it didn't work was with a black rhino, in Ngorongoro Crater, and a male ostrich protecting it's eggs.

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:05 pm 
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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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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 8:53 am 
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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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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:47 pm 
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I must agree with both kevjones and oddesy, honestly to be safe just keep your distance, that way you will never have to choose whether to flee or stand your ground.
But you can judge the circumstances, if you know what you are doing you can choose and this is what helps if you get into an unexpected situation.
There was no way I was standing my ground whilst 3m away from an ellie calf and mother.
However on my farm I know my young bulls and know that I can stand my ground usually!
But there are no rules set in stone.
Believe it or not I have been charged by a Wildebeest bull - there is not much written on how to handle a wildebeest charge :rtm: , albeit not very intimidating! :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:50 pm 
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But then it reminded me of one we, me and my family, had last year in September.

We always stretch our time out as far out as possible in the Kruger but this day for some reason we decided to leave early.
We were staying outside the Crocodile Bridge at N'gwenya, but unfortunately the bridge had flooded again so we could not use it.
We came to Lower Sabie and stopped and planned our route from there to Malelane Gate. (We were in two cars, a Nissan Tida and a Nissan X-trail).

Any ways to cut a long story short we took the H4-2 and took a right onto the H5 etc. etc. until we came to the S25 our little detour we called it.
At a dip in the road we found a little playful elephant (lone bull) or so we thought!
There was one car, about 40 meters in front of us, our two cars, and a car behind us.
And the ellie came closer and closer to the front car just shaking his head a little bit.
The car in front wouldn't reverse and the ellie came closer and closer.
Finally the car reverse about 10 meters from us and we wanted to reverse but we couldn't as there were about three cars behind us already (Everyone had to decide on taking that route.)
And so it went on the ellie came closer and even more cars came behind us.

Finally there were nine cars including us and the ellie charged suddenly!
I was so flippen scared!
He stopped about 5 meters in front of us and swerved to the left and he left us alone.
All of this took n hour of our time!
Just as well we wanted to leave earlier!

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