A close encounter with elephants can be a nerve-racking affair. Last week we shared a video of field guide Wayne Te Brake showing the world just how to read elephant behaviour and avoiding an inevitably one-sided clash with these terrestrial giants. Now here’s what you shouldn’t do …
This hair-raising clip was filmed in Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park last year and has many commenters questioning the actions of the safari guide behind the wheel.
Although it’s unclear what happened before the camera started rolling, the elephant appears visibly disgruntled and looks as though it has just “mock-charged” the vehicle. Agitated elephants usually provide several warning signals before following through with a full-blown, car-crushing charge. Ear flapping, bush bashing, trumpeting, dust throwing and mock charging can all form part of the pre-charge performance.
So, if an ellie is angry, you’ll know all about it. Surprisingly, the safari guide in the video seems to ignore the warning signs and decides to pursue the agitated animal. In retrospect, it proved a costly mistake.
“All the body language from the elephant was that of frustration and irritation,” ex-guide and wildlife filmmaker Russell Bergh told us via email. “The guide should never have moved in after the animal. He should have stopped the vehicle, switched off, got his guests to sit quietly and respected the very clear message that was being given, until the situation was diffused.”
There may have been other factors at play here, too. Perhaps recent poaching incidents in the area had made the herd nervous, or a food shortage had contributed to the elephants’ heightened state of aggression. However, the decision by the guide to pursue the elephant off-road seems to have triggered the attack.-EARTH TOUCH
What do you think? Did the guide act irresponsibly?