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 Post subject: Close encounters of the E kind.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:33 pm 
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On Saturday 20/01/07 entered the Knp via Malelane gate. I had not travelled more than 2 to 3 kms when I met Jumbo walking down the main road. This is not normally a problem as I would simply reverse. However I was towing my Xcape caravan and quite honestly I cannot reverse long distances without getting into a jackknife situation. The best I can do is maybe 100 metres. So here comes Jumbo and every moment he is growing in size and eventually I cannot reverse any further not only because of jackknifing but at least 3 cars had now crept up to the rear of my caravan. So I waited and when about 30 metres away he decides to browse on a bush growing on the roadside. After about 5 minutes I could not bear the tension anymore. Jumbo also decides to flap his ears and starts walking towards my vehicle. I now was desparate as I was unable to reverse or take to the veld as the bush was too dense. I then moved forward slowly and kept as far left as I could. He was now agitated and when I reached him I accelerated as fast as my car could go. When I was level with him he shook his head at me and let out a rush of air (not a trumpet). When I passed him we were no more than a foot apart. Once I passed him I was able to slow down and recover my composure. I can assure you I never ever want to go through that again. I would be interested to know if other members have had a similar experience when towing a caravan and how they handled the situation. For the record I love photographing elephants and have the greatest amount of respect for them. When not towing I still feel in control but when encumbered with towing a caravan you are no longer in control. The elephants are!!!!!!


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:48 pm 
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Yes, adw, can fully sympathise with that hair raising situation, many years we were also towing a caravan and were on a fairly narrow dirt road when along towards us walks a huge Ellie, after reversing as much as possible we also got to the situation where we could not go any further back.
I had one of those big fold out maps in those days which I proceeded to cover myself with, :redface: not really sure why, other than to block out the image of this huge grey mass getting closer and closer. :shock:
All I remember now is my SO saying, Oh well, I might as well take a pic of this lot, at least we can show the insurance company who did the damage. :roll:
But at the last minute it walked into the bush and started drinking at a resevoir to the right of us, which we are pretty sure was where it was going anyway.

The relief was enormous.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:11 pm 
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Oh yes we have been down that road too. We came over the Letaba River Bridge one year and there is a slight incline on the one side, my hubby wanted to sit on the bridge but I had seen cars reversing up ahead so urged him onwards. We were towing a fully laden trailer. Only when we got to the top of the incline did we see what all the fuss was about - 3 HUGE tuskers walking straight down the road. Two cars sped away and left us to face them. We also tried the reversing trick but the trailer jack-knifed so we had to just sit it out. The kids covered themselves with a blanket on the back seat and started praying whilst I covered my face with my arms and refused to look. That left poor hubby to face the music alone - well two of the elephant just waltzed off into the bushes but the third and biggest came on straight to our car. When he got to the engine he turned his trunk around to sniff it and my husband said he could virtually count the hairs in his nostrils! Having smelt us and decided we were no threat he merely toddled off to join his compatriots alongside the road and we drove off with hearts racing and adrenaline on a terrifically high level.

Never again we stop 500 metres away if we are towing a trailer and not much closer even without!

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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:58 pm 
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Jip, everytime I'm in the Kruger and we come accross elephants, and there are people sitting in cars just a few metres away .............. I know for a fact that they never had a close encounter with an elephant! :lol:

We weren't towing a trailer but we were driving a Venture that we borrowed from my sister for the trip ..... to have a bit of height in the bush. But, the trick with the car was that it had a bit of trouble getting into reverse gear! Everytime we stopped for animals, it took a while to get the car in reverse just too see them again!

So now you drive up to an ellie next to the road, but see that the ellie is a bit agitated. So we stopped to look, but when those big ears started flapping and his front leg went to and fro . . . I knew that he did not want us to look at him! The next moment he came russing to the road and right at us. All I could see was ears. A miracle happened and my mom got that car in reverse gear without any hassle! I think she used all her powers! Hahah! The guy behind us luckily also reversed quickly. The elephant stopped and walked back to the same Mopani tree. That magnificent creature had us stuck there for quite a while before we drove slowly up to it again and then put the foot on the petrol till we were clear of danger!

Now we stop so far away from these huge animals, we almost need binoculers to see it! :D


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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:12 pm 
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When I started reading this I thought adw was talking about Jumbo the forumite! :lol:

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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:32 pm 
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Hi all,

I was under the impression that if an elephant is wandering along, and you are parked, and the elephant is not looking agitated at all then there is nothing to worry about and he'll just walk on by, as he is choosing to come near you and he does not feel threatened.

I thought the only time to reverse or worry was if the elephant shows any sign of being annoyed, or is in musth.

Is this not the case after all?

Thanks,

--Winny

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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:34 pm 
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DuQues wrote:
When I started reading this I thought adw was talking about Jumbo the forumite! :lol:


LMAO!!

She is gonna love this! :P


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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:11 pm 
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adw,

I've been in this situation a couple of times and each time it's different situation so it's hard to make general comments but what I would have done in your case is the following:

I would have parked the car and trailer on the side of the road where you wouldn't bother the elephant and wait for it to pass. You said that it was browsing on a bush near you. That is a clear sign that it's relaxed and not bothered by your presence. If you would have just parked at the side of the road then it would probably have just walked past you and maybe would have given you a head shake as it passed by to warn you not to do anything stupid.

In your case by driving towards the elephant you are moving into his comfort zone and forcing the elephant into a decision. In your case it worked out fine, but you could clearly see that it was distressed as it exhaled loudly. In this case the elephant decided to let you pass, but by forcing it into a decision you took a risk. Generally speaking it's better to let the animal make the decisions and resolve the situation than force it into a decision.

M.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:16 pm 
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Thanks Madach, that answers the question I had.

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 Post subject: Close encounters of the E kind.
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:31 pm 
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thanks Madach, I will bear this in mind if this situation occurs again. I presume you leave your engine running whilst parked on the side of the road?


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 Post subject: Re: Close encounters of the E kind.
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 4:57 pm 
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adw wrote:
thanks Madach, I will bear this in mind if this situation occurs again. I presume you leave your engine running whilst parked on the side of the road?

Although elephants in KNP are perfectly relaxed with cars that have their engine running I would have switched off the car. If you leave the engine running then you're a very noisy and smelly object and that might irritate the elephant (although it is very unlikely). Having the engine running wouldn't help anyway because should the elephant decide to take a go at you then you'd never be able to get out of its way quick enough while towing a trailer :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Close encounters of the E kind.
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:03 pm 
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adw wrote:
thanks Madach, I will bear this in mind if this situation occurs again. I presume you leave your engine running whilst parked on the side of the road?


Madach is a nature photographer and running engines dont get good pictures :wink:

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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:09 pm 
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I have unfortunately had many similar experiences. i call it the curse of the trailer. it seems every time i hitch one on the back of the car i come across a musth bull elephant.

my most recent experience happened on the 7th of January this year on the morning i was leaving the park. we came across two stopped cars who had stopped some 20m away from an elephant who looked like he had given them a bit of a rev. i stopped behind the cars and we all waited for him to disappear however he continued to graze on a tree right next to the road.

Eventually i decided to edge forward very slowly and stop a bit closer to him. i noticed that although he carried on feeding he was definitely very aware that i had come a little closer (now about 12m away) he continued feeding for a short time but then suddenly swung his head around and walked straight up to the car ears flapping and tummy rumbling. i stood my ground only because i had no choice. We had a stand off (now about 2m from the, and looking like the biggest elephant i have ever seen in my life!! :shock: ) after about a minute he swung his head around and started to walk off the road.

At this point i thought i had won the stand off and he had backed down. However my victory was short lived as he suddenly decided that he wasn't going to be intimidated by me and he turned again and rushed at the car from the side (this time he stopped about 1m away). The stand off continued because i knew if i tried to drive away he was going to go for me and he definitely would have got me because he was way to close. Suddenly he went down on his front knees and his was my chance, I’m not sure what his next move was but i knew exactly what mine was. Foot flat on the accelerator and out of there! He got up and gave us chase for about 40m before giving up.

Now with the nerves completely rattled we were all joking in the car about what each one of us was doing during the stand off. One was apparently swearing at me(Mom) the other was looking out the window on the opposite side of the car (sister) and the third was eyeballing the elephant in a complete state of shock (Dad).

As we laughed and drove over the next rise guess who we see walking down the road straight towards us??????????????

Yip Musth Elle No2 for the morning. This time we had enough time to reverse the trailer into an opening in the bush and do a u-turn and we sped off back towards Elle No1 who was about 2km away at this stage. We decided to get out of view of the 2nd elephant with the Theory that if he couldn't see us then he might loose interest in chasing cars and wonder off into the bush. So we stopped on the road out of view and had a cup of coffee to pass the time. No sooner had we poured the coffee and i noticed something running in the road way in the distance. So down with the coffee mugs and off we go to investigate. I couldn’t believe it, a pack of wild dogs on the prowl. Thank you elephant number 2 for making us turn back on ourselves! :lol:


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