What to do around Elephants

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Re: Ellie Charges

Unread post by Wild about cats »

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:

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Re: Ellie Charges

Unread post by JenB »

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:
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Re: Ellie Charges

Unread post by DinkyBird »

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
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Re: Ellie Charges

Unread post by Son godin »

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:
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Re: Ellie Charges

Unread post by Elsa »

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.
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Re: Ellie Charges

Unread post by Bush Baptist »

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!
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Re: Ellie Charges

Unread post by Sjambokpod »

With Elephants there are 2 basic social groups you will encounter and that is the Breeding Herd and Lone or small group Bull elephants.

With breeding herds its prudent to watch from a distance and BB above mentioned 50 metres which I reckon is perfect.
Luckily the really large breeding herds with cows that are temperamental are situated in the NW where there are basically no tourist roads.
However in recent years Elephant numbers have increased a lot and more and more smaller breeding herds are encountered along popular tourist routes like the H4-1 where it is crowded and often one finds damaged number plates and bits of vehicle lights lying in the road, signs that a herd crossed and cars crowded them and a cow may have challenged the cars most with incorrectly engines left running..panic quick reverse into the car behind.

Further north across the Olifants River is prime elephant Bull country although they are encountered anywhere now.
In 95% of cases they are harmless old souls who just carry on doing what ellies do.
There are a few things (Check List) I do on seeing a Bull Elephant approaching me on a quiet narrow dusty road normally at about 300 metres at first sighting:

- Switch off.
Ellies don't really enjoy this noise pollution and it spoils the sighting for others if there just happens to be other vehicles behind you some of whom maybe videoing the scene and wouldn't want the sound of urban noises on their African Safari movies.
- Position your car first right on the left side to allow the Ellie space to pass when he gets to you.
- With Binos check to see if he is aroused (erect penis) a sign that he could be upset with your presence.
- Also at this stage it is very important to check the back legs for signs of Urine stains which tells you that he is in musth and not in a good mood. '
If at this long off stage you see the wet back legs then its best to fire up the engine and turn around and leave on a narrow road.
- If everything checks out above then take pics till about 35 metres and then let him pass.

I missed one of the signs earlier on (aroused state) but by this time it was too late when I noticed it in the view finder of the camera so just sit tight.
He stopped alongside and eventually moved on towards a waterhole behind me and the 2 cars behind me panicked and reversed and reversed and couldn't turn around on the narrow road and the Bull ellie played up to this audience and terrified the occupants.
These cars broke the unwritten laws and spoilt their sighting.
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Re: Ellie Charges

Unread post by onewithnature »

Some very sage advice from our forum friends. :clap: :clap:

I am wondering, though, whether elephants in the past few years have become aggressive/assertive with tourists? Perhaps increased traffic and more ignorant people doing stupid things around them? I've noticed an increased amount of elephants confronting an approaching car than ever before.

I remember an elephant half a kilometre into the bush on the Tropic of Capricorn loop a couple of years ago - as soon as he saw us, he changed his parallel direction and walked the 500m diagonally to drive us off the road. When an approaching car saw the scenario, it eventually U-turned to drive the 20km back to the main road, rather than risk an encounter with, what turned out to be, a rather docile, but fun-loving specimen of the pachyderm species.

Most of the time, one can see an elephant's intentions, so act early and don't challenge him unnecessarily. The best was reversing 5 kilometres on a narrow dirt road many years ago in the Olifants area because there was not a single opportunity to create enough distance between him and me in order to do a 10-point turn with my huge-turning-circle vehicle at the time. I will never forget the regular rhythm of those feet on the muddy road as he continued towards me at a steady pace! Eventually, I reached another road and was able to take the long way around back to Olifants, in the process arriving 25 minutes late for camp gate. :doh: Luckily I had filmed the incident, so that the ranger didn't fine me.

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Re: Elephant

Unread post by Leeukos »

This big elephant was just plain stubborn and difficult the one morning while we were on our way from Orpen to Satara. It chased a few cars and then saw us...

We had to reverse a few meters or so as it probably said "You shall not PASS !!!!!"



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Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by alleycat »

I've just returned from the ParK and it happed again

I was on the s114 just below Skakuza and before the Steve Hamilton turn off when i rounded a bend and a bull Elephant was walking towards me in the road on his way to ( I'M SURE ) Skakuza.
He was so big and formidable i didn't hesitate to engage reverse.

I knew to look for signs of Must? but the only way to do that was in reverse. With kids saying he's too close and my reverse sensors screeching with grass setting them off, i didnt know if I muscht? or Muschent? i kid you not i reversed for 1km.

Eventually i backed up 10 cars behind and 5 cars in front all stressing which i think i caused by my initial insubordination to the BRUTE.

Eventually i backed up with my followers in reverse, we then passed a hardened Landrover owner, he stood his ground while we all cowered behind him. The bull left the road 1 meter in front of the rover and we all made a dash for it, he wasnt in Must.

What is the sensible thing to do? i'm an expierienced Kruger Visitor but cant rely on a Malboura men in land rovers to help me out, i also cant afford the Elly to be 1 meter in front of my car, my kids will disown me.
What can we do?
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by Heksie »

wacktazz wrote:I strongly believe that an elephants sex organs are in their feet... If they step on you, you are screwed...

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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by RosemaryH »

i could be...the Malboura man.

You right alleycat ... how would he know :lol:

We once got pushed back 3 kms by a unhappy ellie :shock: Was also told afterwards that an ellie would stay on the road, walking towards you as long as you kept reversing. :big_eyes: :big_eyes: I don't know if I could take on an elephant :D I love elephants but always treat them with a lot of respect and give them loads of space.
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by normana53 »

A few years back, we were forced to reverse for about 3/4 km by a bull that was walking down the road, I finally was forced to stop when the cars behind were too slow at retreating. I pulled as far to the edge of the road as I could and let him pass - my wife kept repeating the mantra "this is a rental car, this is a rental car" and stated I pulled over so that her side was closest to him on purpose. He walked past close enough we could have reached out and touched him. We both held our breath and didn't make a peep, and he walked by like we weren't there. That is when everyone behind us decided to start backing up again!
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by alleycat »

Its exactly that, once you show fear its like they know, not only for this trip but the next one as well.
they say Elephants never forget, i'm sure, its the same one thats messing with me from Malelane to Satara,

they communicate through their feat one herd to another, maybe my numberplate or my SO description, but as sure as eggs i meet an elly with an attitude.

I need help, a new car, look, attitude diesal Petrol, :shock: SO any advice will help.
My son asked me how fast can you drive in reverse, i lied, more impotantly i was looking at who was likely to have the best insurance.
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Re: Bull Elephants Advancing on your car

Unread post by threedogs »

:funny: :funny: :funny:

Last trip without SO I did all the driving with two gun ho young men (sons) with me! Ever the cautious one, I kept getting a lot of stick for pulling up 'a hundred metres away' every time I saw an elephant! :evil: Huge exaggeration :evil: :evil:
Then we bought a copy of one of those books from the camp shop relating lots of short stories from game rangers in Kruger over the years. After reading a couple of the stories about naughty ellies both sons shut up about my ellie strategy! Some bulls seem to have that very self assured, non-chalant type of air that is very hard to read - are they gonna get antsy or stay cool and pass on by? It takes sterner stuff than I'm made of to sit tight and wait and see - after all if the mood changes when they are just metres away it's hard to beat a retreat! We were charged by a huge bull in must in Etosha - it is a very unsettling experience to say the least!