Skip to Content

What to do around Elephants

Moderator: RosemaryH

User avatar
Peter Betts
Posts: 966
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:38 pm
Location: Port Elizabeth

Re: Fear of elephants

Unread postby Peter Betts » Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:10 am

Reading the last 2 posts from Australia about "hitting the gazz" and "getting out of there fast " .. in the presence of cheeky ellies

That is the last thing you do. When around ellies...Switch Off and look...they will soon get very bored with you as you are not doing what they want and you are showing them who is in charge as that is exactly what they want you to do and that is play on your "fear". The problem is you wheel spin away in a cloud of dust and noisy engine revs and you leave a wound up and excited elephant waiting for innocent Mr Joe Soap and his family who then have to deal with this unnecessarily excited ellie. The ellies at Shingwedzi are mostly bulls alone or in smallish bachelor groups and as such are just fine. You should rather warn your friend of the breeding herds along the Lower Sabie/Skukuza double highway. You always see broken rear lights and the odd number plate lying in the road where a herd had crossed earlier and a stroppy teenager had turned and faced the stream of cars and shook his head to mock them. Only to have the front parkers reverse like mad into folk behind...thats why I avoid that road like the plague not because of harmless elephants but to avoid the idiots that watch them or are stopped by ellies in their endless search for lions/leopards in that area.

Hope that helps Maddie88 and Mathews..go and enjoy Kruger in the knowledge that an Ellie is as harmless as an excited Koala Bear :D
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 4958
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:45 pm
Location: southern gauteng

Re: Fear of elephants

Unread postby ndloti » Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:11 am

I agree with that . Elephants and many other wild animals are used to the peace of the wilderness and elephants in particular seem to be easily upset by man or machine made noise , radiator cooling fans , or the booming noise of a car exhaust which is probably heard at a louder volume by them than man hears them at .
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.

User avatar
Posts: 167
Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:04 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Fear of elephants

Unread postby Maddie88 » Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:49 pm

I rather avoid ellies as much as I can, unless they are down below or I know I can get out of there in a flash without disturbing them, just in case.
One one occasion we went to Kruger, we were a combi full of people and after a very quite days drive, we reached a drinking hole and decided to pul over to watch all the animals drink (wildebeest and zebra and impala ect). Switched off the engine, stopped in the shade and made a nice cup of coffee taking in the scene on the left. Gran turned around to her right to find a massive elephant bull standing half a metre away from the combi (we could touch it) with his legs crossed smelling our coffee and staring at us! My heart stopped and dad very casually started the car and drove off very slow, as not to upset the huge animal. I think thats where my fear for them started!

Gorgeous animals they are and I do enjoy them very much, but from a safe distance.... :D

Thanks for all the tips guys and Mathews, ENJOY YOUR TRIP! Only a month to go or so.... :D
My Travel Tale:

Happyness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of travelling...

Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:10 am

Re: Fear of elephants

Unread postby Aniki » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:41 pm

We were driving from Skukuza early one morning going to Tshokwane still very early so nobody were there when I needed to go to the bathroom (funny the entrance always facing the bush.)

Going around the corner Elephant!!!!!!! lucky his back was towards me. I was sort of running/walking to the car so scared that he might hear me.

My husband had a grin on his face I could see when I told him it was a elephant because he knows my fear for elephants.

Okay quess what next day same time same place elephant again. But this time my husband went with me and this time the elephant was facing us.

I must say he was very calm maybee didn't even know we were there. But I was very very sure of him being there.

User avatar
Posts: 14861
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa

Re: Elephant

Unread postby Elsa » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:49 pm

This ellie seen on the S1 Doispane Road in Feb this year with a huge rip in his ear.

Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

User avatar
Honorary Virtual Ranger
Honorary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 17941
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?

Re: Elephant

Unread postby DuQues » Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:02 pm


Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:51 am

Re: Elephant

Unread postby Sprocky » Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:07 pm

Here is an example of an Elephant to keep your distance from. For those who don't know, this is an example of a bull in Musth. Note the leaking temperal gland and stained hind legs from genital leakage.


Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:06 pm

Ellie Encounters!

Unread postby Thea123 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:11 am

We will be in Kruger in 10 days from our home in San Diego California.
I've watched the you tube videos and read all I can, but I need clear directions on what to do in our compact rental car if a disgruntled elephant charges.
What I have come up with is to keep our distance, watch if an ellie looks irritated, and if so back up before he charges.
Is this an okay strategy?
Also if we are in a charge situation, what should we do? :slap:
I would be so inclined to back up.
It seems from the you tube videos that lots of out of country tourists have no idea what they are doing....that of course will be us!! :redface:
Help would be appreciated.
Oh, and what side of the car to I tie the yellow ribbon?


User avatar
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 10142
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 7:05 am
Location: Back home in the caravan at Malelane Camp

Re: Ellie Charges

Unread postby ecojunkie » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:27 am

Yellow ribbon on driver's door mirror!

Giving ellies space is wise.
Don't get in the middle of a herd if you can help it - if you do and cannot escape then best stay still, windows closed, engine off.

Try to avoid the reverse-chase scenario.
If an ellie is 'chasing' then rather turn round, go a different route, or wait a while back down the road out of sight of ellie and then move forward again.
Hopefully ellie will have moved off.

Enjoy your trip.
Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

Have you read the entrance permit? Do you KNOW the Conditions of Entry?

Completed over 6 years in Kruger in my caravan.

If I was normal I wouldn't be me!

User avatar
Wild about cats
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 2437
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 4:10 pm
Location: SA

Re: Ellie Charges

Unread postby Wild about cats » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:13 am

Hi Thea :yaya:

Just remember to give elephants their space.
A lot of the time, people don't respect this and it makes them irritable.
Things to look out for in an irritated elephants are things like aggressive flapping ears, head shaking and trunk flailing.
Also stay away from young ones, as some of the mothers are very protective.

Elephant are usually peaceful creatures, so you don't have to stress too much. :thumbs_up:

[ Post made via Mobile Device ] Image
Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2015

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14

Letaba Ladies, 3rd Edition - '14 - '15

User avatar
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 18227
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:41 pm
Location: Johannesburg - where they cut down trees and name streets after them.

Re: Ellie Charges

Unread postby JenB » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:18 pm

Hi Thea123,
Warm welcome to the forum! :D

Respect their personal space and keep a safe distance if you can.
Don't drive to close to the car in front of you, leaving them space to cross the road in case there are more members of the family which you might not have seen, they are amazingly well camouflaged for such huge animals.
If you have no choice but to stay put, switch off your engine.
The sound of your motor running can aggravate an irritated elephant even more.
I know this is the most difficult one but do not move your car, if you do it creates the motion of flight and they might give chase.
Close your windows to prevent them from getting the human smell.
They are used to cars but not people.

We once survived a very serious charge by doing all of the above. :wink:
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~ Anatole France

User avatar
Posts: 47948
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 5:54 pm
Location: Where everything is on the correct side again!

Re: Ellie Charges

Unread postby DinkyBird » Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:00 pm

To all the excellent advice above, I would just like to add that it is definitely not the norm to be charged by ellies in the Kruger Park. However, one does have to treat ellies with great respect - as with all wild animals. Even the birds and 'tame' buck in the camps. Wild animals are just that - wild.

I have seen tourists (and more so recently) very nervous around ellies in the park - some keeping great distances from them. If one is nervous, rather do this than risk anything going wrong, but what I am trying to convey is that you do not have to drive around the park in fear of your life all the time. Relax and enjoy the time there. :D

User avatar
Son godin
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 2037
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:03 pm
Location: Trichardt, MP

Re: Ellie Charges

Unread postby Son godin » Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:45 pm

Another advice is to never block an elephant's path to and from a water hole.
They prefer to follow their paths and will not walk around your car.

When you notice elephants crossing the road or in the road approach slowly to be certain where the rest of the herd are and specially where the young are walking.
Driving into fast might result in you being in the middle of the herd.

We once watched about 20 cars trying to reverse out of elephant's way when the first car moved in too fast and blocked the pathway to the river and stopped in front of calves.
The elephants did not pay any attention to our car, which was parked on the opposite side of the road and facing the cars, which were reversing away from the elephants.

During our last holiday we had to reverse a few 100m just to give a herd the chance to leave the road.
We were following a leopard for a few km and suddenly the leopard stopped and sniffed the air.
In the middle of the road were a large breeding herd of elephants walking right towards us and having no plans of moving into the bush.
Needless to say we had to leave the leopard and started reversing to get out of the bull's way.

The elephant calves were enjoying the water in the road after the rain and did not want to leave the road. Finally they got the message from the adults and as soon as the calves were back into the bush the bull left us alone.
The leopard also disappeared, but at least we had enough time spent with it.

Elephants sometimes look more aggressive than what their intentions are.
This holiday near Mooiplaas, Mopani area, I've changed a couple of times my route because of ellies not giving way walking in the middle of a narrow road.
After making a U-turn (not 3 point but maybe 5 :lol: ) and facing in the opposite direction now, the elephant will politely leave the road resulting in an unnecessary turn.
Maybe a car looks much bigger from the side than the front that made the ellies change their mind.
I am not sure but I rather play safe than sorry. :whistle:
Trip Reports - Painted, spotted and striped animals of the Koppies, TT of Three Arid Parks near Namibia in April 2015

User avatar
Posts: 14861
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa

Re: Ellie Charges

Unread postby Elsa » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:54 am

Another thing we have found is that some Ellies do not like it when the car's headlights are switched on, so always keep our off when in the park.
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

User avatar
Bush Baptist
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 10015
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:38 pm
Location: In the shadow of Table Mountain

Re: Ellie Charges

Unread postby Bush Baptist » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:05 pm

Welcome to the forum 123.

I dunno how you are going to remember all the (sometimes conflicting) advice.

Here's mine.

As most have said, keep a good distance if you can. 50 metres is close enough.
Don't separate a cow from her calf.
Don't get near a bull in musth (wetness running down his cheeks and a serious urine smell). They can become very aggressive.
Try to get past them and view them (even slighly) from the rear, so that you can put foot if you need to.
Don't get caught up in traffic at an ele sighting. Some ppl have no respect for them and do stupid things, and the ele might take it out on the next cars. Also reversing quickly in a crowd is not fun.
Don't panic or stress at all ele sightings. Eles are relaxed MOST OF THE TIME, but if they stare at you and flap their ears it is time to move on.
If you are in a sticky situation, and are trapped, don't hoot, rev your engine and gap it when you can.
Finally, pray!
Whatever (according to BB): "You are correct but I don't want to admit it".

Return to “SANParks Tuskers”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests