Have you ever been charged by an elephant while on a game drive? Leon and Carol Evans had an elephant charge and ram their car while game viewing in the Kruger Park. Leon shares his story.
Professor Rudi van Aarde director of the Conservation Ecology Research Unit at the University of Pretoria and author of Elephants: Facts and Fables, responds:
Young (12 to 15 years of age) often behave in a boisterous manner when in a confusing situation. For example a confusing situation could be a vehicle on the side of the road, possibly right in the elephant’s path, while he is roaming in proximity but somewhat away from his natal group.
I have two questions regarding this incident:
1. Is there such a thing as a “rogue” elephant that will attack and charge unprovoked?
No, there is no such thing … though bulls usually older than 22 years of age do experience a period of “musth” that is associated with heightened sexual activities that may be interpreted as aggression. An attack is usually provoked but may be redirected as part of displacement behaviour – the equivalent to a person slamming a door when provoked by another person.
2. I have always been taught since very young that when an animal is approached, it is best to switch the vehicle off and be as quiet as possible so as not to scare the animal off. Does this rule apply to elephants?
There are no rules. I keep mine running and always move out of their way and off the distinct paths they use. I do prefer to keep a safe distance. I seldom approach elephants but on occasion I do allow them to approach me.
The tusk of this elephant made a neat small hole just below the shattered window. Maybe the elephant just didn’t like the Dr Evil logo on the window of our car!
… For that I do not blame the elephant!