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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:46 pm 
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A lot has been said about the nature of elephants.
I am 30mins away from Addo - but would like to ask on what basis are the statements made about Addo elephants being less aggressive than the Kruger elephants ?
Is this based on stats that represent figures for people who have been maimed and killed or charged ?

Addo has had , in the past few years a number of translocated mature Kruger bulls - with the intention to increase the variety of the gene pool, and prevent further in-breeding of the herds.

Anyway I'm rambling....

What I would like to say is that I visit Addo at least 3 times a month, albeit for a day trip (7am until gate closure, season dependant), I have been charged 4 times, but hasten to add, that these could have been mock charges - I didn't stick around to find out.
I’ve read from various game rangers' articles, that when the trunk is tucked in, or ears flapping, even when they swing a front foot may herald a charge. Better safe than sorry.

ALTHOUGH - these charges have been by sub-adult bulls, and not one by an Addo female cow.
I have had the misfortune to be boxed in....window down, camera on beanbag, clicking away to finally come up for air, and see a camper van in front, and one behind.
With a collared bull ambling up the road.
He was roughly 1m from my car - a chevvy spark.
Proof of this was the mud that dripped off his trunk and ears onto my bonnet and wind shield.
what can one do in that situation ? N O T H I N G ...!! :| :| :|
Maybe I was fortunate enough to have this bull close, yet none aggressive.
(maybe because I lit up a cigarette may have deterred him with the smell..lol)

There is free advice by those who lived to tell the tale.
Some say reverse, others say stand your ground. Personally....I find prior to a charge there are signs.
Give the elephant his berth, and respect, and if need be, reverse up.
If the road is wide enough, and you can see (for example) a bull coming down the road in your direction, and he offers no threat, keep your car in 1st gear, and idling. should you need to get out, drive around him.

I definitely do not subscribe to "lets see how near we can get" - These are wild animals, and have been separated by hundreds of years from modern man in the same habitat.
They are not used to us, and will do whatever necessary to protect their own space, and interests.

As stated above, read the rules and regulations on the entry tickets/maps etc.
I would dearly LOVE to visit Kruger Park in the future, I have my heart set on it. I have read so many wonderful stories and anecdotes on here that I’m pining for it :)

My top priority would be to see and photograph a big tusker.

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:15 pm 
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Weltenman wrote:
So just a quick one, what do you guys do if you are in the middle of a herd?


Sit still and remain silent.
This has happened to me before in a combi.
They surrounded the combi and two of them even stuck their trunks into the open sun roof, I could have touched them if I was dumb enough.

On Saturday I had a close call. I had my FIL with me and we sat at Sable dam watching two bulls, they were about 200m away.
The one headed into the bush and the other came towards the water, and us.
The engine was off and we watched him until he was right in front of us.
He stood for about two minutes just staring at us, then he walked closer,...and closer.
By now he was about 6-7 metres in front of the bakkie, still eyeing us out.
When he moved closer the next time I had to take action,
I started the engine and revved it a few times, this made him stop but only for a few seconds.
He then advanced again, I now had to do something, 1st gear, and then I moved forward towards him at about half a metre at a time.
Each time I moved he stopped, the last time he stood and looked for a while then casually walked around the car.
At this stage my FIL was whiter than normal, he couldn't speak and once when the ellie was at the water he burst out laughing.
If I did not react that way I am sure he would have tried to confront us in a more serious manner.


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:21 am 
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Taken from the book "Kruger Park Adventures" by CP de Leeuw Beyers, published early 70's

"The Cheesemans had turned off the engine, and without an inkling of danger were still admiring the herd when the cow trumpeted and with spread out ears rushed at their car, followed by her calf. Within seconds it had bashed the bonnet in three places and tore a gaping hole in it. Aided by the calf, it then proceeded to jerk the car up and down. Fortunately the car was in neutral gear for the cow now starting to push it backwards. Had it been in locked gear, the vehicle would in all probability been overturned on top of the Cheesemans.

Stopping at intervals and and resuming the attack, the elephants pushed the vehicle for 20 yards. At this stage they appeared to have given enough vent to their rage, for they abruptly stopped, moved off and joined the herd."

Judged by the photo in the book, it must have happened during the 1940's

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:06 pm 
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My worst nightmare. I have had it a few times.

1. Don't get too close. Across the river will do. :popcorn:
2. Give the animal a way out.
3. Park with it behind you if you can.
4. If not, reverse so you can turn around.
5. If you cannot, and it comes towards you, rev the engine, don't hoot. That should make it cry off. (The guide did it on a night ride, and I had the opportunity next day also - both times successful).
6. If you cannot, pray. :pray:

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:24 pm 
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The scariest moment I have been involved in was at a private reserve adjacent to Kruger. We were driving in an open vehicle when we encountered an lone bull. The bull suddenly decided to charge us, but our driver, the owner of the bungalow, interpreted it as a mock charge and said that he is going to call the elephant's bluff and continued along the road, even driving a bit faster. He thought that if the elephant saw that we were not backing off, then the he would back off.

WRONG

The elephant decided otherwise and continued on its path. Our driver then realized that, oh oh fresh plans needed and swerved the vehicle to the right and into the veld, in between small Mopanie trees, but still the elephant still came for us. We were blocked off by Mopani shrubs and the vehicle came to a standstill. By then the elephant was about 4 metres from us and we thought, this is the end of the world. When we came to a standstill, the elephant also braked, but with such a force that little stones and pebbles flew into the air and actually hit us in the face.

A year later, the brake marks of the elephant were still visible. 2 metres long, 30 cm wide and 10 cm deep.

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:22 pm 
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ndloti wrote:
About 40 years ago a section ranger must have been frightened after an elephant stuck its tusks through the bottom of the vehicle door and through the drivers seat that he was sitting in .

About 10 years ago an open safari vehicle transporting wilderness trail participants was turned onto its side by an elephant .


Wasn't it in the Custos magazine? Apparently a breeding herd crossed the road from right to left in front of his vehicle and when the "last" elephant crossed the road, the ranger thought that it was safe to proceed. He then stopped at the place where the "last" elephant crossed and looked to his left. An unseen elephant the came out of the bush from his right and charged his vehicle. One of the tusks penetrated the door and scraped his upper leg between the leg and the steering wheel.

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:46 pm 
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I always say, think of how many visitors there are in the park at any given time or over a year and then how many serious accidents occur, where cars get damaged or people hurt, its really a very small percentage, in fact one very seldom hears of those bad incidents.
Somehow it makes me feel a bit better but we are still very alert and cautious at the same time. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:15 pm 
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I have read in numerous books that one should switch your vehicle off, and sit quietly while the elephant passes.
The worst thing one can do apparently is keep reversing as it teaches the ele to be "naughty". :naughty:

Hmm. I was in a non national park and there was a elephant bull in musth walking down the road. I had my 4 year old son with me in the car, and I kept reversing. Sorry, but no way was I going to play "chicken" with a 5 ton animal.


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:57 pm 
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I have been reading this topic with great interest.

We have had a few run-ins with Ellies - mostly when we have been caught unawares . I still maintain they can hide behind a blade of grass.:roll:

The worst encounter that springs to mind was my 86 year old mum was sitting in the car at a bird hide as she was exhausted and didn't want to come up with us. A breeding herd appeared from out of no-where. From the hide I could have stroked them - Mum had elephants all around the car - elephant trunks on the bonnet, the roof and investigating the windows (all closed - fortunately) and windscreen. Thankfully she was too afraid to even blink and sat like a statue as I watched from my perch unable to re-assure her.

The second (mum was with us again) we came across a bull standing in the middle of a twisty road up a koppie. He was not a happy chappie. With no warning he came at us full speed - discretion being the better a part of valour we reversed. Deciding that we were now out of sight he would stop - no chance - he chased us all the way down the hill.
Sadly the next day we heard a young bull had damaged a car and some tourist were hurt - it was in the same place we had been "chased" - He was destroyed and if I remember correctly an abscess or some such was found.
The good thing was - when we could turn round and drive forwards again we encountered a leopard marking his territory. As there was no other car in sight we could follow him without disrupting his activities until he eventually settled down on a rocky outcrop to take a nap.

So - rightly or wrongly - I am very glad my car has got the fastest reverse speed of all makes :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:54 pm 
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This thread takes me back at bit to 1987 our first trip to Kruger.
A tour of 6 caravans spent 3 nights in Kruger the last of which was at Letaba.
One of the couples had their daughter and SIL staying over for the last night with them.
We in the tour group all had CB radios which were very popular those days.
On our way out to Phalaborwa Gate (Caravans in tow), No 1 of our group radios the rest of us that there is an ellie up front chomping on a bush right next to the road, so he wisely had stopped about 40 meters from it.
The rest of the tour group stopped behind him - Ben was in second place, we in third the others behind.
Now the SIL came up in the rear, didn't know why all had stopped (he did not have a CB) so he proceeded past the 6 caravans, went right up next to the ellie to take photos.
Ellie did not like this so made to charge him, he reversed (pretty fast) right past the lot of us - right to the back of the queue.
Ellie kept coming' head waving from side to side ears flapping.
One of the group came on air said as we cant reverse and the road ahead was full of the charging ellie we should switch off engines and pray - which we did.
Ellie came charging to No 1 car, stopped a meter away, turned right and wondered off in the bush. No 2 (Ben) put his chev in first gear and we didn't see him again until P. Gate.
Scary moments.
Since then I and SO have great respect for ellies and keep our distance.


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:13 pm 
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Now here is another advantage of driving a motorhome - it is much bigger and higher than an elephant so they retreat every time. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:00 pm 
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Moggiedog, I believe you have something there. One of our group was charged by some elephants and had to beat a hasty retreat the previous day and the No. 1 car in our tour group on our way out to Phalaborwa gate - both had cream cars. We had a white Opel when we were persued by some young bull elephants in Pilansberg. Fortunately we had stopped some distance from them (because of our previous experience) so had a head start. Martie (Year in Kruger) mentioned that she didn't think they liked her Silver Nissan diesel bakkie. I wondered if they didn't like the noise the diesel engine made. We were however cautious when we went last year with our silver car.


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:49 pm 
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A herd is made up of every different type of personality and the individuals normally stay true to their basic personality, however their reaction to various situations are influenced by so many varying factors that you can no more put an individual in a behaviour category than you could one of us.
I don't know about anyone else, but I have on a few occasions reacted totally out of "character" and afterwards asked myself what the heck was all that about.
Elephant also have bad hair days, just hope you're not too close when they have one.
Imagine being pushed, crowded, gawked at, have one's peace disturbed, kids threatened by vehicles etc all day most days.
How many people hate their personal space to be crowded, ellies are the same except their personal space is a bigger area, best advise....give them space, you can never tell if its their bad hair day.
I have worked with a few herds in my years of research and have got to know individuals within the different herds, with some I had a special bond, but every now and then that same individual would have an off day, behave totally out of character and end up spoiling my day.
Tomorrow all would be forgiven.
Damn, I love these beautiful juggernauts


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette)
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:07 pm 
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We were at Addo over the past weekend. We had parked at Harpoor dam (or whats left of it after the drought) facing the dam. A few ellies came towards the dam from behind us, when about 20m from us the young bull started to trumpet and charge at us. He backed off about a meter from the car with his ears still flapping and giving us the eyeball.

On previous trips to Addo, the ellies have calmly walked past us parked in the same position. We also followed a large bull in musth who was also dribbling urine. We gave him space for a while but I eventually got enough courage to drive past him. He seemed fine and not too concerned about us....

Can the adolesent bulls be more of a problem than the older ones and do the cows charge as much as the bulls or vice versa?


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 Post subject: Re: Charging Elephants & evasive action! (Elephant Etiquette
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:51 pm 
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Bartman, with elephant there are no rules.
In a breeding herd young bulls getting toward the adolescent age are getting near to the time when they move out and seek bachelor groups, this is all part of their upbringing.
In the bachelor group they receive instruction from older bulls on things like behaviour, herd "rules" and migration routes.
Often these young adolescents throw their weight around and tend to be a little unruly just before joining the bachelor group.
Often the matriarch of the breeding herd will quieten him down, but like teenagers they get a little over exuberant.
In your case at the dam in Addo, the herd was coming in to look for water and he probably thought he needed to clear their way by scaring you aside.
The big old mature bulls normally couldn't be bothered in proving anything, they are what they are, big powerful and intimidating.
However they are bad tempered when in musth.
Cows are mothers, their job is to protect the herd, keep it bonded and raise the young, anything that interferes with that is looking for trouble.


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