Face to Face with an Elephant (Video)

Back to the Bush

We’ve been plagued by electrical issues at Bateleur over the last couple of weeks, so on Sunday I drove through to Hoedspruit to get to the bottom of it. We rely heavily on our camera system as it give us insight into the daily happenings – and since our handyman is on leave, someone had to go. I was ecstatic! An excuse to be in the Bush again.

Since Zaza and Teens 1 through 3 are homeschooling and hubby is working from home, I made the trip alone. I could barely contain my excitement. The huge open expanses always remind me of how vast South Africa is and I find the five hour drive very soothing. There is a hair-raising section between Dullstroom and Lydenburg where you have to play “dodge the pothole (or crater!)” but after that it is all tranquil farmland, mountains and rural villages. Truly lovely.

Game Drive

At the crack of dawn on Wednesday, before my alarm even sounded, I woke up. I followed a route up along the fence road watching the sun rise. It was quiet and peaceful along the fence road, and just being out and watching the sunrise is good for the soul.

Sunrise on the way up to the fence – January 2021

My plan was to visit one of the dams. On my previous visit I had seen knob-billed ducks on the water and I was hoping for another glimpse. I turned up the road and found a tree blocking it. Elephant landscaping in action.

Roadblock on the way to the dam – January 2021

I had seen the elephant dung all the way up the road and it was still glistening and moist, so I knew they were not far off.

Ok, so much for that! After making about a seven point turn on the very narrow road, I headed up to the next dam. Segments of the road have eroded from all the recent rain, so I took a side road. More elephant dung.

By now the sun was up and the golden light of the morning softly sparkled on the grass and the leaves.

Sun already up in the sky – January 2021

The two-track path was narrow. Overgrown acacia thorn branches battered the side of the Landy. A drongo distracted me and flew off before I could take a photo and then when I least expected it, just around the next bend, I came face to face with an elephant.

We were both a bit startled to say the least! The situation called for a split-second decision. Reverse and flee, or brazen it out and just pray that the elephant wasn’t in musth. We stared at each other. He was gigantic and intimidating. The Landy had cut off his path completely. His reaction could be a direct threat to my safety! I held my breath. The pachyderm decided to be gracious and moved off into the bushes on the side to munch the foliage.

The Landy casts a shadow on the magnificent pachyderm – January 2021

I exhaled. I slowly opened my window and watched him in awe. He was so close, that, had I reached out my hand, I could have touched him! The early morning light shone on his back and the Landy cast shadows on him. He exuded calm and serenity. Relief washed over me.

The elephant calmly eating while standing right next to the Landy – January 2021

Once he had eaten his fill he ambled off, down the road. I thought I’d head to the dam, but since there was another blocked path ahead, I followed in the wake of the elephant.

I’d accepted that by the time I’d turned, he would have disappeared, but I was lucky enough to get another glimpse. Even an enormous elephant vanishes as if by magic when the grass is overgrown and the trees are densely packed and flourishing.

The elephant just before he disappeared into the bushes – January 2021

Note: Elephants can be extremely dangerous especially when they are in musth. Musth occurs due to surges in an elephant bull’s testosterone levels and the increased testosterone can make him more aggressive than usual. It is very obvious when they are in musth – and it should be taken as a warning to keep far away. All elephants should be treated with the hugest respect and given enough space to go about their daily activities without feeling threatened.

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Published by Ally's Bush Tales

I am a lover of the African Bush, blessed to live for parts of the year on a Wildlife Estate in Limpopo, South Africa.

11 thoughts on “Face to Face with an Elephant (Video)

  1. What a wonderful way to start your day. And your writing (with stunning photos) is so descriptive, I feel like I am with you in the South African bush I love so much.

  2. Absolutely awesome. My first “read” and … I’m hooked! Look forward to more. 🐘🦏🐾

  3. Oh my goodness, Ally! What an experience! I honestly read this holding my breath. I’ve read about the danger of elephant attacks – I saw a documentary a while ago also. How exactly do you know that an elephant is in musth? So interesting!
    What majestic animals, though. Absolutely beautiful. I love your writing style! I’ll explore your blog a bit more!

    1. Hi Susanne. Thanks so much for the interest. It is much appreciated 😊. When they are in musth they usually have dark marks down the side of their face that look like tears and then there is that awkward typically male problem to try and put it politely 😆.

      We were there recently and ran into two males who were in musth and pretty grumpy. They generally warn you and mock charge and we know to keep our distance. We got out of their space pretty quickly!

  4. Ally, What an unexpected and wonderful elephant encounter. With many animals, we can avoid trouble when we give them space. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and video. I’m glad you’re able to join my #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up. Please remember include a link to my blog post somewhere in your post. You can see how other WeekendCoffeeShare participants do it on their blogs. Thank you.

  5. I am so glad I came across your post and the wonderful pictures and video of the elephant. Thank you for the information. I will be looking for more. Shared with a friend on my Facebook page.

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