Understanding Elephants

It’s not uncommon during any safari, to get into a tight spot involving elephants, after all, they are the biggest animals out there and are used to doing just as they please.

We were in amongst a herd one afternoon, in some thick bush that is typical of the valley areas of where we were.  The herd was well scattered, but one mother had a very young calf, only weeks old, and she was understandably quite protective.

They headed off in front of us down the steep bank of the river bed.  The gradient was too much for the calf, so the mother turned and came back up behind us, with her calf in tow.  When she realized we were there she spayed her ears, raised her head and circled the vehicle, making over exaggerated head shakes and dragging her feet in an effort to kick up dust and intimidate us.  They have a certain ‘look’ when they get like this, as they raise their heads and peer down at you along their trunk.  You can see ‘the wheels turning’ as if deciding what they want to do next.

The best way to handle these situations is to sit quietly and let her realize we didn’t want to hurt her or her calf.  Starting the vehicle or reacting in any way to her in that situation, would have just annoyed her and since she’s bigger than us, it’s best not to do that!  Once she realized we were no harm, she spun around and led her calf off through the thickets, scattering a nearby group of giraffe that looked a little confused as to why they were being trumpeted at!

I always enjoy the comments and nervous laughs that erupt after the tension of the moment has past and everyone lets out a deep breath of relief….

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