Encounter with rowdy elephants at Elizabeth and Pilanesberg Parks


What you need to know:

  • When they hurt.  Different people have reffered to elephants as gentle giants. Yet, when they lose their cool, they are both a spectacle and violent, writes Edgar R. Batte .

Nobody moved, nobody got hurt. The defeaning sound of trumpeting elephants as they viciously moved in attacking formations while the disfavoured ones ran away, was quite a sight.

The spectacle of these giants stampeding all over the place was enough to strike fear in most people’s hearts.
In the midst of it all, my mind could have chosen to freeze but so much seemed exciting as the famous adage of grass suffering when elephants fight made meaning in that definitive place and time.

Yet as it all unfolded, the emotional outpour was mixed. On one hand, a fearless Julius, was too happy to be getting some rarely good footage while on the other, Ronald wished this was a bad dream as his facial expression relayed fear and panic.

At the morning hour, and under the cool weather, the fairly built fellow, was seen sweating. The day’s driver, Abiaz kept assuring us that we would not become casualties of the wild war but much of this fell on discerning travel buddies.
For me, this was my second time witnessing elephants fighting each other. This prior knowledge gave me the confidence to instead capture the fight on camera.

I had read about an elephant attack on some Ugandan scribes in the early 2000s whose car was overturned and the crew had to scamper for life. I was prompted to do some reading on elephants and their nature.

Once annoyed

From what I found out, an irked elephant can keep annoyance for close to three decades. Folks from the Kasese area have ‘tasted’ the wrath of elephants for retaliating when they cross from Queen Elizabeth National Park and into their gardens to feed on their produce.

My initial experience with a stubborn elephant was in Pilanesberg National Park, in South Africa, an experience that remains etched on my mind. The elephant charges at us at the 8pm and there was a chance to turn back but fellow travellers were not going to let the elephant have its way.

In that moment, the faint-hearted felt their pulses racing. The elephant stubbornly charged at our safari vehicles as it loudly trumpeted. There were a number of vehicles, all returning tourists to their respective lodges from Pilanesberg National Park.

We were a group of international travel journalists along with other tourists. Our group was in the second vehicle right at the front where the elephant was. It must have been bullied and distressed by a driver or tourists before us or it was their anger just  its bullish character.

For close to two hours, none of the safari drivers could dare move an inch closer.
The journalists were having a first-hand experience as the heavy-bodied wild animal stood in the road, bringing traffic in the wild side of South Africa’s North West Province to a standstill.

It would charge and prompt the drivers into a quick reverse race. And in that moment of adrenaline rush, some travellers elicited their annoying side by cheekily calling on the driver in our vehicle to race and ram into the stubborn ‘fellow’.

The tension
At some point everyone went mute and the silence was loud. We were there to see the big five and one of the big guys had overly showcased themselves albeit in a nonsensical manner.

In the heat of the moment, I couldn’t help but remember a scene in the Rambo franchise where Sylvester Stallone cries out, ‘I wanna go home’. Help had been called and as a truck with rangers approached, the elephant started making its way into the unlit bushy environs.

It knew better that a bullet or something hurtful was soon to be shot its way. Like that, the somewhat deafening silence from some of the fellow travellers who had visibly lost all comfort and cool, was broken and jokes and jibes thrown about on what could have been going on in their minds.

From our Pilanesberg National Park, we’ll live to tell you about the excursion. Not long after the trip to the rainbow nation, I was faced with the elephants, again. This town is in the south western wildlife splendid tourist destination of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda..

It was six of us, a group of photographers and videographers, on a morning game drive when we got caught in the middle of a fight of elephants. 

About Pilanesberg
Located in the northern part of South Africa, Pilanesberg is roughly four hours from Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. Pilanesberg is also about a three-hour drive from Johannesberg, making it an extremely accessible park to visit.

Pilanesberg is the result of a donation of land by local indian tribes, and the name comes from a Tswana chief who went by the name “Pilane.” In what was named ‘Operation Gensis’, 6000 animals were reintroduced in this area and 110 kilometres (70 miles) of fence were constructed.

- Your African Safari


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