• David Bough

Nearer, my god, to thee…a close encounter with Loxodonta Africana.

So here is our story of one Elephant, some idiots in cars and one of the most thrilling/frightening experiences either Lorrie or I have had in the Kruger.

Last year we were heading back to Crocodile Bridge Gate after a great day in the park and rounding a bend in the road came across a roadblock of about 6-7 cars….what was it we wondered, a leopard, lions, something else.

It rapidly became apparent what the “something else” was……a very very large, in musth and not happy bull elephant.

We pulled over on our side of the road being careful to leave as much room as we could for our new Ele friend if he continued on his way.

Now the fun begins. Some of the cars in front of us, two abreast across the road with lights on, decided to evacuate the scene and reversed away from the elephant and past us. …followed by our elephant friend. The cars behind on the Crocodile Bridge side of the elephant decided as they were behind him it would be safe to follow him at a close distance.

As the reversing cars whizzed past us and the elephant came closer it became clear he was, to put it mildly, not in the best of moods.. Leaking from his temporal glands and leaking and dripping from elsewhere, he swaggered towards us as if he owned the world. His head swinging, stopping every few paces to rake the ground with his front feet. As the cars pressed behind him he showed all the signs of losing his temper.

We, and the Elephant, are now in a car sandwich with those in front and behind us blocking the road for its full width and most with their lights on.

So he stops on the other side of the road from us facing the car, looks at us and continues the threat behaviour. We have no option but to stay where we are as he would have been on top of us before we got the car in gear, and as we know, it would have been foolish to move at this stage anyway.

We sat silently, with Lorrie nearest to him in the drivers seat and he seemed to be calming down a little. Bear in mind he’s about 15 feet from us.

Then it happens. Not one, two but three of the cars in front of us decide they are going to be late home for sundowners/braai/jaffles and pass in quick succession, at speed, (probably 40kph), between us and our elephant friend.

Lorrie and I couldn’t believe it as we watched the three cars approach, accelerate, and pass through the small gap between us and our Elephant.

The third car passed and Mr Loxodonta Africana hit the roof !!!!.

Head shaking, ears flapping, trumpeting, leaking and pawing at the ground he left us in no doubt as to his mood change. We watched and waited for the inevitable….he took a few steps towards the car. Eeeeek. He stood motionless for a moment and then walked slowly to the rear of our car and turned to face our little Chevrolet again.

Through the rear view mirror I was horrified to see him behind the car kneeling and tusking the ground repeatedly, ears flapping and for all the world looking like the most angry, pissed off elephant in Africa….for a few minutes we just waited for the thud as he hit the car.

We waited…and waited for what seemed like an eternity. After a couple of minutes he rose to his feet shook his head again and turned to continue his swagger down the road, with the cars behind us still reversing…maybe all the way back to Lower Sabie 😂 I don’t think we’d ever really realised the meaning of the word relief until that moment.

We watched him move away from us down the road and when he was a safe distance we pulled off to continue our journey home.

An amazing, amazing experience to be that close to an angry musth bull and escape to tell the tale.

To Mr Loxodonta Africana thank you for a fascinating and memorable meeting and to the three idiots in the cars who drove between us and our friend at such close proximity and at such speed….well perhaps those words aren’t for here.

Please remember if you’re close to these beautiful animals to treat them with the respect they deserve. We lived to tell the tale but things could have ended up so differently.

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