Safari Snippets: Have you ever been charged by a herd of elephants?
Something exciting always happened on our way to stake out the hyena den. Not far out of the lodge we had to work our way around a fallen tree spanning the track. No need for expert tracking skills here. By now we could all identify the damage from hungry elephants on the move. The whip crack of breaking branches meant they were close!
Around the next bend, we found ourselves in the midst of a morning tree party. The graceful giants were stripping the bark from everything in reach. Their slow, steady pace at odds with how fast they wreaked utter havoc on the area.
A collective gasp flew from the group as we spotted a five week old baby elephant. His face scrunched in determination as he wrestled a twig with his wayward trunk. The other elephants ambled around us seeking out the juiciest greenery. With the baby tucked into his mother’s shadow, they seemed confident that we were not a threat. We settled in to watch this tiny marvel.
Up close to wild animals, the situation can change in an instant. The baby, who was completely entralled with his twig, spies us with glee and drops the twig. Then he’s coming for us – ears flapped out, trunk raised and bellowing. We are all completely charmed, “Oh look! Only five weeks old and he’s charging us. How adorable!”. But Jacques our guide knows what’s coming, he’s started the vehicle, called out “Hold on!” and we’re off!
A towering wall of panicking aunty elephants has formed behind the charging baby. They’re coming for us – ears flapped out, trunks raised and bellowing.
It’s a tense few moments, but the mother elephant manages to wrap a trunk around the baby and halt his charge. Seeing the threat receding, the other elephants slow and peel off back into the bush. The baby gives us one final shake of his head, “Ha! I showed you!”.
Years from now, my family will still be telling the tale of the time a baby elephant charged us. I imagine that baby elephant will grow up and trumpet about how he scared off a monster and saved his family when he was only five weeks old.