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What to do around Elephants

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nunu
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Unread postby nunu » Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:55 am

I don't agree that elephants are always on the defensive when chasing cars. Some of them actually seem to do this for a bit of rest and relaxation. I have come across them standing in the road WAITING for traffic. It is common, especially up north to find elephants walking down a tar road for kilometres chasing everything that comes their way. Usually bulls in musth, and they are actually venting pent up aggression. The best approach here is to find an alternative route. I sense that these days with the increased day and night traffice and the huge population increase of elephants in the park, that these aggressive outbursts have also increased. Cetainly I am getting chased more than ever before. Sorry Jazil I am not been very comforting I know. (If you are really worried stick to the busier roads.)

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:20 am

I would recommend not to get too close to an elephant if you can help it in the first place. The first thing to do is to recognise the obvious signs of danger. If a bull elephant has a dark wetness on the sides of it's temples and dripping urine, then it is in musth and it is not safe to get too close to the animal.

Same goes for cows with small calves. Stay clear unless you want a sunroof in your golf or even a cabrolet combi.

When an elephant starts shaking it's head and gives a trumpet or 2, it means, that you have over stayed your visit and that things could turn out well afterall for your financial troubled doctor and estate lawyer.

Rhino's don't have good sight, anything over 15m is a guess for them. And if that guess is an intruding bull into their territory then you are about to give someone the chance of having this week's 50-50 veldfocus prize coming their way.

Banging your hand on your roof or side of door when mr rhino looks confused will convince him that the metal sound is not his jealous neighbour looking to get back his once used-to-be bride.

Never switch your car off when it's not safe to do so, and being up close and personal with these heavies means that it is not safe. Don't agitate these animals, don't tempt them. They do wonderfull work to enhance the uniqueness of your vehicle without trying too hard. Many people found it out the hard way that insurance companies don't have a sense of humour when you explain to them that their untimely swim in the Kanniedood dam was in fact the result of a ele bull with a bad sense of humour and an equally bad personal interest in nosey homo sapiens.
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Unread postby Wild@Heart » Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:40 am

Also, when an ellie is walking down the road towards you and you can't get past him .. Don't use your hooter .. if anything it will only irretate him more ...

Just reverse all the way or if there is time and space, turn around. At some point he will get bored with his game and go off into the bush ...

Do not try to pass an ellie if he shows signs of irretation ... They are remarkable quick.

Signs of warnings and mock charges are when ears are flapping.

Definite charge: Ears are tucked back against the shoulders and trunk is rolled up underneath head .. Maak Spore (get going) ...

Also look for signs that he knows you are there .. some of them are very playfull (don't go out and play tagg with him) .. We've had some good experiences this last trip.
Several times an elephant would casually make like it's eating or drinking next to the road .. watch them carefully ... The one that charged a vehicle (who thought she could pass it) ... was not looking in our direction .. but the trunk was constantly pointing to us underneath it's head .. smelling ...

Give them their space ... then you will be fine.
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Unread postby Jazil » Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:45 am

All these tips are great, there is no ways that I would like a reconditioned vehicle so 5km is about the distance I will try and keep from any ellies.
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Unread postby DuQues » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:40 am

Musth is a period among adult male elephants, (over 15-20 years old) sometimes referred to as similar to male deer's "Rot".
(Musth is a word of Persian origin and is translated in the languages of Northern India by "condition of poisoning". The word musth is used to describe an abnormal behaviour or the behaviour of a drunk, whether human being or elephant.)
There is a three weeks pre-musth-condition, about one month high-musth, and one post-musth condition. Their temporal glands become swollen, from where a strong smelling fluid, rich of testosterone, runs down on their cheeks. During musth the males are very aggressive, and sexual active. According to Cynthia Moss, author of the book elephant memories, the older females in a heard gives passage to musth males when a female is in heat, while they block the way for younger males, not in musth. But males are always able to cover a female, also outside the musth period.

The reason for the musth seems to be that it prevents inbreeding. If the bulls would not be at their aggressive peak only for a month a year, only the largest, most dominant bull would cover the females all the time. In captivity, the limited space makes it dangerous to let a bull in musth condition to a female, since she may be attacked and wounded if she is not willing to mate.

Elephant males are able to reproduce from around their eighteenth birthday. However, it would be an extremely unusual event for a bull younger than 30 to mate with a female at the height of her oestrus. At all times there would be at least one large adult musth male with the herd about who would displace any young pretenders. In fact, older bulls that are in musth actually suppress the musth cycle of less dominant younger bulls to the extent that they will fall out of musth a few days. This results in a stable hierarchy of bull elephants, with the older more experienced bulls coming into musth for a full period of three to five months a year, and less dominant bulls being in musth for relatively shorter periods. The most subordinate bulls would be those that have just left the breeding herd, and those will not come into musth at all. Joyce Poole found that Amboseli bulls only enter a sustained period of musth at about 30. Up until then, although they will start musth, and will show a lot of the symptoms, younger bulls will not achieve full musth. A consequence of this hierarchy is that when a bull does actually enter musth he has the experience to cope with the circumstance of being cock-full of testosterone in the presence of a group of receptive females, and in a bunch of like-minded guys. The goal of introducing Kruger elephants to Pilanesberg (and now Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park) was to establish such a bull hierarchy. This would prevent young males from entering sustained musth until they could manage it.

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Apr 19, 2006 8:08 am

The most famous elephant overturning car story has got to be the Kanniedood dam ele. He simply enjoyed moving dirty cars through his car wash, being the Kanniedood dam itself.

A few years ago an ele overturned a jeep jockey's vehicle with a couple of tourists in it still and then trampled the trailer to "death". It walked off, cross paths with a bull buff and made short work of the bovine bullybeef.

One female tourist broke her arm in the incidence and the driver was found way later after he ran off into the veld.

What's really nice bout incidents like these is that you automatically win yourself 2 holes in your door for easy access to take your Macdonalds take aways and small change. A tusk have no problem penetrating the metal and if you are really lucky you will not end up "dumb man en-brochette" whilst listening to the midday radio Jacaranda news.
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:52 am

nunu wrote::funny:
I enjoyed this post WTM
Apparently that same elephant has now opened a panel beating firm on the top end of the Kanniedood called Loxadonta's Chop Shop.



:lol: :lol:
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Unread postby nunu » Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:50 am

Hi Alya

I always say that if elephants bother you then dont stay at Letaba and north of that. The ellies in the south seem a lot more "tame" or placid. There are also much fewer elephants down south and some of the theory is that the overcrowding of ellies in the north is what is causing some of the aggression. Therefore you should go and enjoy your stay and not be overly concerned about being chased by elephants - I think that its unlikely to happen.

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Unread postby NightOwl » Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:26 pm

Addo Ellies are definitely more docile than Kruger ellies.
I've been so close to ellies on regular occasions, that they often brush the car walking pass on there way to wherever they going. Regularly switch the car of to limit agitation to ellies and then sit DEAD still, while just enjoying the sighting. Only sound will be my camera shutter :lol:
Key here is to read their body language and BE SENSIBLE!!!
Use comon sense!!! NO HOOTER!!! give way to bulls in Musth, meaning dont try to then switch the car off. do everything SLOWLY. If you see a bull approach and you have no option, but to reverse, start reversing SLOWLY in advance.
If they are on their way to water, don't block their path. You can park right next to their path, and they will completely ignore you.
These elephants walked literally about 5-20cm from us past the nose of the car.
I saw the heard approach the road and scanned the bushes for their path on the opposite side of the road, then parked my car skew with nose close to their path, but not blocking their route. Took nearly 200 Awesome shots of the heard(about 70 elephants). The only elephant to even stop for about 10 seconds and glance at us, was when my girlfriend sneezed. Ellie realized no danger and moved on.
Be Sensible, Use Common Sense, Stay calm, Read the signs, and Respect the animal.
Last edited by NightOwl on Fri Apr 21, 2006 7:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postby Jay » Thu Apr 20, 2006 8:23 pm

the rules:
1) watch ellie out back window, is easier to drive fast forward (and straight)than in reverse.
2) mommies with babies, old ones, musth ones need PLENTY room to move.
3) when watching one ellie, look around more are probably going to come creeping out the bush.
....and finally, have only been charged once in the twenty odd years I have been going to the park and that one was just having fun.

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Unread postby graemy » Sat May 13, 2006 7:43 pm

HI THERE
We just came back from Kruger and saw a lot of elephant... Most of our sightings were in the southern region of the park, but it is true that we didn't go any further north than Letaba. Around Oliphants sightings of many herds of fifteen to twenty individuals.
I must admit that before going to Kruger I was a little nervous about the elephants. Everything went very well. Give them as much room as possible, try to feel their humour, watch whether they continue feeding when you're around... Look out for babies and elephants you didn't see, hiding in the bush. If you keep an eye out you're fine. The best barometer is just trying to feel if you're confortable with them and them with you. We often backed up in reverse until we could assess the situation and then drove up a bit closer when things seemed to be ok.
The only times when we really got nervous was on the very small narrow loop roads with thick bush on each side. Once we drove up one of those loops and there were elephants very close on both sides. It was a bit late to turn back as we were already in their midst. Driving along very slowly as not to disturb them we came to a dead end with what looked like hippo trails leading to the water. I didn't feel too good about turning around and driving back through the elephants but we didn't have much choice. Driving back slowly they just kept on browsing and let us through although there were some quite young ones next to the road.
Most times you get to respect them and leave them enough space, but sometimes you just drive right into the middle of them in tight spots. Hard to not get nervous!!!
I love elephants!!!
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Unread postby wildheart » Sat May 05, 2007 10:53 am

I have experienced that the ellies around Singwedzi wasn't as friendly as there neighbours. When ever you pass them on the road then they shake their heads and break the branches. They really struck fear into my daughter, so much that we were not allowed to pass one standing next to the rode anymore.

In Jan 07 we were travelling on the gravel road from Red Rocks to Shingwedzi. Because it was so overgrown in that area we drove very slowly to make sure that we dont give any thing in the bushes a fright. As we came around a corner we found a herd of ellies on both sides of the road. We waited about 30 min for them to move-on but it became clear that they were planning on spending the day. We decided that we will have to pass them cause it was getting late. We drove extremely slowly but that didnt help :? the next moment we heard breaking branches and a loud trumpeter. When we looked back we had an ellie chasing us, flapping his ears with his trunk up in a thick cloud of dust. :shock: . I have to say, I enjoyed every moment of it. This is one of the ellies that were entertaining us.
Image

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Unread postby eladn » Sun Jun 10, 2007 6:47 pm

We had a bad encounter in the Berg En Dal dirt road loop. We crested a hill, and surprisied what was probably a young, angry bull, who started making noises, flapping its nose around, tearing big branches from nearby trees, and getting into the road toward my car. I immediately reversed, but two inconsiderate 4x4 drivers going each the other direction decided to discuss the issue in details just behind me, blocking my reverse escape route, while the thrashing elly was closing all of the time. When it got closer to me, but went a little off the road, seeing that the two gentlemen continue to ignore the ellie's anger and my clear reverse lights, I pinned the pedal to the metal and stormed forward at 40km/h before the elly had a chance to get on the road again, out of the scene.

After that, we were careful around these big beasts. At Biyamiti, we went for an afternoon drive toward the Weir but to over-cheerful ellies at the two sides of the road, plus another blocking the road ahead convinced me not to take chances (especially since it was another hour to gate closing time), and we decided to call it a day, go back to camp and watch birds there.

Elad.

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Unread postby wildheart » Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:42 pm

We found that the ellies up north were very irritated, must be the mopanie not working well with the stomachs.

We came around a bent on the Red Rocks loop and got a huge fright. :shock: There were ellies right next to the road on both sides. Luckily we were driving very slowly so we didnt give them much fright. We waited for them to move on into the bush, but as time went buy it became clear that they were very happy right were they were. We couldnt turn around cause then we wouldnt have made gate time so we had to drive through them.

We slowly crept pass them but the next moment one broke branches and turned right around and disappeared in the bushes. The next moment he came charging down the road behind our car. Flapping ears and trunk up high, causing a huge dust cloud. Image
It was really a frightening experience.

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Unread postby Perks. » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:45 am

Still get a massive adrenalin rush when I drive around a corner, or crest a hill, to find funt (or rhino or buff) in the road, or just next to.

As a rule, 40 metres is the closest I'll, get and even then, should one of the herd make eye contact, I'll reverse a bit, to show no intention of being a threat.

In my trip report I described the large (40+) breeding herd we encountered at Nhlanganini, and the JJ who told us later that this was quite a sociable herd, and were comfortable with vehicles in close proximity. Well, I still took no chances!

Recall two mad ellie encounters...

1. Duke on the CB-LS road, May 97. I swear he was just having fun with all these cars reversing and ducking down the side road. There were no big ear flapping or trunk-raising overtures, and eventually he just sauntered off into the veld. THAT was nerve-wracking.

2. Towing caravan from LS to Satara, via Tshokwane, early 80s. Around a corner we find a veritable parking lot of cars, and an angry herd. Most of the cars ducked behind us and took off. We reversed as best we could before we started twisting the van. And then we just stopped. My dad could do nothing, my mom was very anxious, and the angry funto was doing the complete mock charge routine with flappy ears and stomping, and trumpeting. But it was a total stalemate, we could nowhere, he was going nowhere, so we just waited. I think having the caravan behind us made us look bigger than the average car, which was why he never actually made the charge. I k***ed myself that day, and have paid ellies and 'saurus lots of respect ever since.

And one WEIRD buffalo experience, September 97, overnighting in LS, en route to hockey tournament in Nelspruit. Also on the CB-LS road, a large herd (200+) of buff going west-east to drink at the river. One minute we were driving along, through very thick riverine scrub, the next a buff stepped on the road ahead of us, we stopped, and the next second, we were surrounded by tons of prime beef. Just switched off the car, and watched. We had the trailer, and not even one buffalo so much as brushed either car or Venter. A guy in an Isuzu DC couldn't be bothered to wait for the crossing to be finished, and edged into the herd. The mass of animals being pressed from all sides had nowhere to go, and said vehicle was bumped and scratched a bit for the driver's troubles. It was a surreal and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and changed my outlook of buffalo as these permanently enraged beasts who would just love to turn humans into Swiss cheese.
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