What to do around Elephants

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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by alleycat »


Never posted a photo before but lets try show a culprit, NoT sure if it will come out, if not I'll try again or maybe one of you have a photo to remind us what we have to man up to.
I believe the Portuguese Elephants from Moz can be grumpy, Maybe its because they cant understand the locals
I know you should never drive up slowly and then hoot, rev,screech off or worse pull their tails when you have the upper hand. :naughty:
Thats because i could be the next one round the corner and you might just mistake that trunk for a tail :whistle:
What you do do, is follow a caravaner and hide behind them, because i see they have no choice but to close their windows sit there and screem so no one can hear them. Sneak past the caravaner on the clear side when the elly draws up alongside them, that should work. :hmz: Remember to thank the caravaner and offer wet wipes when he finally catches up.
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Madalla »

This is one of the nice things about driving a motorhome - it is bigger than an ellie and they always retreat quickly when you approach.
If only they knew how flimsy it really is!!
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Foxy »

Tears running down my cheeks from a good laugh. :lol:
Jokes aside, we have also had some hairy experiences with ellies - I normally admire my eyelids or check out my toe nails :lol:
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Viewfinder »

I had quite a giggle when I saw this thread...that feeling of "got to get out of the way now!" just comes back to me so clearly :lol:
This lady charged us last year in Kruger on the S65.
She was eating just off the side of the road, next thing she turned to us (still about 20m from us) started to flap her ears and throw sand with her trunk, obviously not impressed with our presence!
We did a reverse of about 40 m back down the hill :D
Well, I can laugh now, but it was pretty scary then.
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Exbrakpanite »

Use your ZOOM lens to diminish his size!!!!
In Etosha I decided to photograph an approaching large bull elephant but make him small against a background of looming clouds. I zoomed out with my 16-35mm lens. I could hear my wife spluttering, as the distant elephant approached. I took my last shot, and put the camera down to find the elephant looming outside my drivers window. He eyed me as he gently pawed the ground. I sat very still and he went on his way! I now know how powerful that zoom effect is.

The day before we watched a bull elephant drinking with his back to us. We parked 40 meters further on well away from the elephant's well worn path leading back from Fischer's pan to Klein Okevi waterhole. As we had hoped, he turned and trod his path, but at the road did'nt cross over but turned right to come closer and closer right behind us. We saw the tusks through the rear view mirror and then the rear window!!. Suddenly the car bounced three times as he repeatedly pushed down on our roof rack. We just sat. After a few tense moments, he seemingly was satisfied with our shock absorbers and springs, because he then left us and went on to Klein Okevi. Phew.

What to do with elephants? The advice given on this forum by the two open topics is excellent.

It is sometimes very difficult to reverse back e.g. towing a trailer, cars behind you, or very narrow path. You of course can never predict the strange and dangerous behaviour of some fellow tourists. We had a bus charge a large bull at Newbrowni waterhole in Etosha for a laugh!. The driver didnt see we were right next to him Be extra cautious with some elephants. Assess if they are in musth (Hindi word for mischievious): secretion from temporal gland between eye and ear associated with dribbled urine staining back legs. Also be careful not to seperate mother and calf.

We follow the advice in the excellent animal behaviour book "Beat about the Bush" by Trevor Carnaby (Jacana Press):- We pull over to give the elephant room to pass, turn off engine and airconditioner, close windows, and wait. Carnaby states if your airco carries on buy another car! I will now add the excellent advice gleaned from these superforum discussions to our procedure count down: turn off the lights and for smokers dont!
This patient approach has worked for us up till now with bulls passing gently inches from or scared ghostly white Landcruiser. I do keep forgetting what the characteristics are of a mock or real charge!. I suppose there will be no time to check if the latter happens.
Last edited by Exbrakpanite on Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by threedogs »

Exbrakpanite, I swear those Etosha elephants make me more nervous :lol: You are right too; some people freak out and make things dangerous for everyone. We were at a waterhole near Halali in Etosha when ourselves and about 3 other cars ended up pulled up one behind the other on a loop track because there were a few big ellies up ahead loitering about on the road, slowly making their way to the water. Everyone in the cars had stopped and turned the car off. We were second in the line and a few cows came out of the bush to the left and started to cross the track in front of the cars quite close. It was no bother they were relaxed but the last cow and the biggest took her time and stopped in the middle of the track not far from the first car. (There were no babies or juveniles in the group of ellies) Right at that worst moment the first car panicked and started their car and tried to reverse which annoyed the cow! The driver was gesticulating to us to go backwards but we couldn't and wouldn't because no one else behind us was moving! If they just sat quietly she would have gone on her way. As it was, luckily, she shook her head a couple of times, turned to face the cars as if deciding what to do, but then moved on.
And if an ellie tested out my car shocks I think the my shocks would give way :shock: :lol:
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Goggo EJ »

An encounter this morning made me retreat. I was travelling home on the S25, when I came round a corner and face to face with a large bull walking in the road. We both got a surprise! I gave him space and reversed just a little to the side furtherest from him. He stopped and then began to move on again but even more to the side of the road. But then he seemed to think again and turned to face me and began to show aggression. Rather than begin a reversing chase scenario, I simply turned round and took a detour via the S119 meeting more ellies, but much more friendly ones!

Had a convenient detour not been available I would have still turned round, but then sat for 10 or 15 minutes a km or two further down the road and then slowly moved forward again. Usually by then the ellie has moved off and all is OK and no further aggro has been provoked.
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Bettyspaghetti »

Oooh this does remind me of our first trip to the park in 1999, we were young and naive and driving along a road near Skukuza we encountered a bull elephant. He was stood bang in the middle of the road facing us about 20m away. Well Mr Spaghetti (who was driving) got his camera out and started to take photos as the ele strode toward us, ears akimbo and trunk waving around - meanwhile I was in passenger seat of the hire car and prodding Mr Spaghetti to reverse quick.

Of course as Mr Spag was looking through the viewfinder of the camera, the ele actually looked further away so he didn't panic, until he put the camera down and realised that we were indeed now close to the point of being uncomfortable so he took the handbrake off and put his foot on the accelerator....only to find that he wasn't in reverse at all (as he had thought) - but in "drive" so we we going even closer! :big_eyes:

I have never seen his face drain of colour quite as quickly as Mr Spag panicked in the hire car, found reverse and got away as soon as possible - poor ele looked most bemused and wandered off into the bush. After that we developed a more respectful distance from eles and Mr Spag is banned from taking photos when driving ever again :thumbs_up:
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by BerkiSA »

Hi All,

WOW! If i had a Rand for every time an elephant charged me, i could afford to spend all year in the park!

The most recent and worst charge i have had came on the 6th December 2011. We had done a fantastic early morning drive from Satara heading to Tshokwane for a breakfast. We were still a little early for breakfast (6:25am) and so I decided to take the S33 dirt loop road to Tshokwane.

As we had driven about 5km along the S33 we went down and up a river bead and rounded a corner only to see a massive Bull 70m further up the road. The bush is very high and constricts the road to such an extent there would be no safe way to pass the bull and so I decided to wait until he moved away into the bush.

Suddenly with no warning the Bull turned around and start charging at full speed. I have had many mock charges in the past and this certainly was not one of them. The bull had his trunk locked under his head and ears pressed flat against his body. I could not turn the car around due to lack of space with the bush and so had to reverse away while the bull was catching us.

The real problem came as I realised we would not easily be able to reverse up the riverbank and I had to make a quick decision, so with the bull 30m away I swung my car into the bush (crushing a small tree and scratching the whole car!) and shot off in first with the bull about 5m away!

My girlfriend and I ended up getting safely away and went straight back to satara for an early morning shot of whisky! It was only during sitting down that I realised my girlfriend had managed to get a photo of the bull from the side just before he charged. When zooming in, one can clearly see that the bull was in musth. I am just happy that we did not go any closer to the bull!
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Nicolette »

Wow Berkisa that must have been scary. I also have been charged and threatened many times. I have a healthy respect for Elephants and give them lots of space. Especially when they are in Musth or when there are babies around.
My last trrip in March we had 2 seperate Bull elephants who quite rightly decided they owned the road. I could see they did not like 1 the Silver 4X4 between lower Sabie and Croc bridge and the Black 4X4 betrween Lower Sabie and Skukuza The first one we reversed up the dirt road to Dukes waterhole and stopped. I mentioned to my friend that perhaps we were still too close. She replied dont worry look behind, To my amusement there were about 6 cars behind us who had done the same thing. After much nervous laughter we waited and went back onto the tar road and drove on to Skukuza, About 5 or 6 kilo from Lower Sabie we encountered another Bull we reversed about 1 kilometre and had enough time to turn around and go back to Lower Sabie. Once again we were joined by several other drivers who decided that breakfast in Lower Sabie was a good idea. These 2 were not happy chappies.
I get really nervous when other drivers decide to be brave? and get close and in doing so lock you in with no escape. I wish people would be sensible.

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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by KTM KWAGGA »

A few years ago we were on our way from CB to Malelane. We were going up a hill when a BIG BULL with one broken tusk started moving down the hill. We stopped and started reversing. The bull started moving faster down the hill. We reversed for about 3km. By now there were about 10 vehicles reversing. The brave dude in an Isuzu behind us decided to pull off into the bush. I was happy that we were not first inline anymore, lol. The bull went straight for him. He quickly reversed to get out of the way.

We reversed to a turn off to a lodge. Half of the cars stayed on the main road and the other half took the road to the lodge. We were on the lodge road and as luck would have it the bull followed us. At this stage it was already dark. We had spoken to the local ranger who was on his way to "recue" us. We were instructed to go and wait at the lodge.

When the ranger arrived the bull had disappeared. We had to follow him in the dark on our own night drive. He suddenly turned and stopped with his lights on a leopard next to the road! When we got to the road leading to the Malelane gate, he stopped and asked if we would be ok to go to Berg en Dal while he takes the other cars to the gate. 2km on the BeD road we were lucky enough to find a lioness in the road. What a great experience at the end of the day.

This was a very stressful experience for our daughter. To this day she hates the S25 with a passion. She calls it our elephant nightmare road. I personally prefer to see elephants in the river far away from me.
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by robertson »

I'm on the floor with laughter and almost weeing in my pants with all the stories.

My story is 5km from lower Sabie came across a breeding heard of Ellies, camera automatically out and through the lens finder all seemed perfectly well, cars infront and behind us so I felt safe, dropping the camera to change lenses I realised the cars infront of us all made a speedy move forward and the cars and open game view vehicles behind us had all reversed20 - 30 meters away all keeping and I on us to make sure we would be ok, I looked at the Mrs and she was sitting dead still as we were in the middle of a breeding hear and 10 - 15 calves were around us with the mommies standing no less than a meter away from our doors. Big Mamma came straight to us head first in a calmly manner as out engine was of and with my now not makeing any movements, she stood there staring at us almost to say " this is my heard, you will not harm us" we were blessed to sit there for 20min in the middle of these playful Ellies and BigMamma not moving. I unfortunately didn't get the pics as I was to sh*t scared to put a lens on the camera again God blessed us with the memory. 20 min had gone and the Ellies had moved on, almost all the cars behind us congratulated us and said we were amazing and so professional, if only they new what the voices were saying!
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by threedogs »

Scipio, is there that little windy bit of track that goes to Sable Dam with all the dense bush around like in that top photo? That bit of track always gets me antsy. We came around a corner there last year and met a few of your ellie friends :shock: I don't like the feeling of being hemmed in and with no manouvering room when you get surprised like that. :lol:
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Scipio »

The one and only 3D, :lol: I can show pics and related stories of Ellies in that piace for hours on end. :lol: :lol:
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by nighthawk2 »

Robertson, seems like your adventure was accidental - ours was somewhat intentional.
A few years back, we were parked at the waterhole in Addo, last in a series of cars viewing the comings & goings. out from the bush behind us ambled out a family group on their way to the waterhole. They passed at most 10 metres from the car. We sat & watched, then they turned & were headed for the bush but instead of going back exactly the way they came, headed straight for us. All the other cars decided to retreat while we stood our ground carefully observing the body language. In no time we were surrounded, just marvelled at the beauty & gentleness of these awesome creatures. Only thing we had to do was roll up the windows because they started to stick their trunks in!
The others may have thought we were stupid but an incident from one of our first trips to Mikumi, we passed a small family of elephants & stopped a short distance ahead to observe. In no time they were beside us & not being experienced as well as it being our last day, we didn't want any bad memories, so we asked the driver to move on. His response was to sit tight, don't make any noise & observe, otherwise they would probably charge.
What happened next will always remain with us. Two young adults passed in front of us and stood guard on either side of the road. Next came the matriach with a young calf followed by another young adult. The matriach crossed the road with the youngster and headed off into the bush. Then the guard peeled off & followed her.
From then on we've always watched for the body language to dictate what is appropriate. Don't drive right up or worse split the group.
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