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What to do around Elephants

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Goggo EJ
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Goggo EJ » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:39 am

Towing a caravan is definitely the way to learn how to cope with ellies!!!! You cannot reverse, so have to learn how to 'tough it out'.

Ellie walking slowly towards you......sit quiet, and you will be fine. Stop far enough away that he can see you and decide on his own path - he will quite likely leave the road just before reaching you, although he may continue to walk past close to the car. Remember windows closed, engine off, and no sudden movements to attract attention. Make sure you leave plenty of room for ellie to pass so it does not feel crowded in.

Big group of ellies - try to stop on one side of them - either before, or go through slowly and quietly as possible and stop past them. That way your exit is easier if necessary.

Ellie feeding or standing close to the road......stop with space to spare, and watch. If signs are that it is relaxed then slowly move forward. If at any time it stops and turns towards you then stop and sit it out, or turn round and find another route! Do not continue to approach an ellie that shows clearly it is aware of your presence and does not want you to come closer yet.
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by ggreensill » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:27 pm

Very good advice from ecojunkie.

For me it all depends on the situation
There will always be some sort of sign that the elephant will give you as to whether they are comfartable with your presence or not. Things that you need to look for include the very familiar head shake, the tail standing very straight, raised head with ears out to make the animal look as big as possible, trumpeting.

My advise would be to approach causiously at first, then take your lead from the animal.
Large bulls can also be bullies and most often standing your ground will cause them to move off. by reversing the animal realises its dominance and continues continues with its game until it gets bored or the vehicle stands its ground.
Just another tough day in Africa!!!

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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Bush Baptist » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:46 pm

I have had a few run ins with eles, and a good few reversings.

Once on a night ride, we came across a bull in musth on the road. The guide immediately revved and moved forward in thusting movements, confronting the ele, which turned to the side and ran off.

I asked the guie about the incident after the drive and he told me that his sggressive behaviour caught the bull off guard and he ran for it, otherwise the bull would have been dominant in the situation. When I asked what if it didn't work, I was told we would have been in for a lot of fast reversing.

I am not recommending this, I will still reverse and reverse......
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by barryels » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:00 pm

Reading through the encounters I just have to deal our experience down at Biyamiti with the mites. It was during Sept 2010 when we stayed at Biyamiti. We toook the dirt road the morning towards CB. Most will know that the road has a lot of ups and downs. As we went uphill once more, there was a few ellies left of us in the bush with (I think it was the matriarch) about 3 meters off the road at the top of the hill, busy eating. I went forward and came to a stop approximately 15 meters from her and SO started taking pic's of her. There was a guy in a landy about 30 meters behind us. The next moment, without any signes or warning started to charge :shock: . I reacted quickly and reversed downhill at a rate of knots but she still closes the cap. Thankfully the guy behind also retreated to make way. The next moment she stopped (maybe becuase it was downhill for her) and stared at us. At that point in time it looked as if me and SO was in summer clothing on the North pole the way we shivered :big_eyes: . She on the other hand quietly turned anround and moved back up the hill and went into the bush to the right. The next moment a car arrived from the other side, stopped next to her to take pic's and then moved on passed us. We could not believe our eyes. I began to proceed up the hill again, however when we got to about 5 meters from her she charged again. This time around I was still moving and just put my foot down. I could see her in the rearview mirror, standing in the road again :evil: . Later met up with the guy in the landy and she also did nothing to him. Wonder till today what the reason for her charging us had been? From that day onwards I keep well clear of any ellie close or in the road!!
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Goggo EJ
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Goggo EJ » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:06 pm

The tone of some car engines does irritate ellies for some reason.

Also the shape of your vehicle may cause a sudden flash of light reflection which irritates them.

If you get one aggressive response then don't try to go forward again.
Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by p@m » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:15 pm

OK -- so what do you do with the ellie with time on his hands when you don't have time on your side ? You know the one -- he stands with his head in a bush, bum in the road about 4 km from Satara, Berg 'n Dal, Malelane gate -- you get the idea :)

Move forward -- flapping ears and raised trunk :shock: Reverse and wait. Try again -- more aggro from the ellie :shock: (who is probably grinning into the bush at this stage)

The queue gets longer and no-one can get past. Eventually a few brave (or foolhardy) types try to push past and get screamed at along with the raised trunk & flapping ears. Upset ellie and going-to-be-late visitors = frayed nerves all round :shock:

Eventually he gets bored with his game and walks off leaving mayhem behind him.

Now how are you supposed to deal with him ?

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Goggo EJ
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Goggo EJ » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:25 pm

Just wait! And hope an official vehicle comes along and can 'persuade' him to move off. Unfortunately these are usually younger bulls asserting their dominance over something.....probably unable to do so over their peers or older ellies!

As I said earlier, once aggression is shown don't provoke the ellie again - it might just get worse.
Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

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

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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Orange » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:26 pm

Haven't had too close a call in Kruger with Ellies, but had a bit of a moment in Addo at the one waterhole. A whole family of elephants (we estimate over 50) decided to come drink, and a couple of them decided to go walk on the road nearby. I was at the back of the group of cars watching, and at the first sign of aggro I would've been out of there. But the Isuzu bakkie at the front of the queue was VERY close to the ellies, and when we spoke to them later they were still a bit shaken by how close they'd been!

Elephants are fairly cute from a respectful distance, but from about 2m from your front bumper? A fair bit intimidating!

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Goggo EJ
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Goggo EJ » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:34 pm

I have been in the middle of an angry herd of ellies - awesome experience. We had passed the herd, and a short while later found mating lions. We stopped to watch the lions and did not realise the ellies had come up behind us. The next thing they were screaming, trumpeting, etc and running around us as they smelled and then chased the lions. It all happened so fast, and was such an incredible experience we forgot to use our cameras!

Not only were we unharmed - but so was the car both inside and outside......
Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

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

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If I was normal I wouldn't be me!

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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by alleycat » Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:01 pm

[img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/al359wood1/6901629000/in/photostream/[/img]

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 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:15 pm

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 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:56 pm

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 » Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:44 am

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 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:30 am

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 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:11 am

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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