After last weeks close encounter with Sargent, the big male rhino, I had another close encounter – this time with a huge bull elephant. As I was walking to the research vehicle, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a huge grey mass heading my direction. I quickly glanced over, only to find a massive elephant charging right at me. Luckily elephants are masters of the ‘mock charge’ and rarely strike their targets, so I stayed pretty calm and just waved my arms up and made some noise to slow his approach. Despite knowing (assuming) he was only mock charging, it still got my blood pumping! Seeing a two ton animal racing towards you with its two sharp tusks, stopping only within about five feet, is a pretty frightening and exhilarating experience! It’s really only those last few feet of his charge that you start praying that this guy is just trying to intimidate you and will soon stop, and yes it sure does get the adrenaline going! But I suppose I’m quite used to it by now, after all its almost four or five times a week that I’m charged by the elephants around here. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that they stick with the mock and forget about charging me for real!
Big elephant bull starting his charge
When they charge, elephants flair out their ears to make them look more intimidating. I must admit… when you’re standing only a few feet away from them, it works!
On a separate note, this morning as I was eating my bowl of cereal around 5:30am, I remembered that I had left my water bottle in my room. I started walking back, and about 20 feet from my tent I saw several female lions dash out of the bushes next to me and run directly under where I was standing (on a boardwalk, only about three feet off the ground) and off towards the field just behind my tent. A moment later a huge male lion came charging through the bushes that the females had just darted out of, and sprinted after them. He was roaring like mad and must have been chasing them out of his territory, but I must say it was definitely the closest encounter I’ve had with lions while I was not inside a vehicle. To say the least, I was glad they were pre-occupied with running away from the big male (and he too busy chasing them) otherwise they may have taken the second to look up and see me walking right over their path. All in all, it was a pretty exciting way to start the day…
lions darting out of the bushes, and running within a few feet of me!