Elephants, Charging, How To Avoid
Most of us are aware of the dangers of being charged at by an elephant , or any large African mammal for that matter. It is not an experience that you would like to endure on a regular basis. In fact, it is not an experience that you would like to experience at all. The usual symptoms of an elephant charge are intense body shape reconfiguration and/or death.
The best way to avoid being chased by an elephant is of course to avoid elephant inhabited areas at all costs. The easiest way to do this is of course to avoid going to Africa. In fact, with the poaching that has been going on, there are even vast areas of Africa which are completely elephant free. Other elephant areas are zoos and circuses. Elephants in these two areas are very likely to be a tad miffed at their confinement, and so might wish to take out their frustrations on the surrounding human population. This results in some promising elephant charge situations in the comfort of your own neighbourhood.
If, however, you are one of those intrepid folks who has to go and see an elephant for yourself in the glory of its natural habitat, then there are certain steps which can be taken to avoid a nasty gory death. Turning around and going straight home would be my first advice, but obviously that is not too practical.
If you are observing an elephant at either a zoo or circus, then my advice to you is to keep note of all emergency exits, and to ensure that there is always a group of young children between you and the large grey beast. If you are on a visit to see an elephant in it's natural habitat, then there are slightly more precautions you need to take into consideration.
Firstly, despite popular opinion, brandishing a mouse at an elephant in the same way as one brandishes a cross at a vampire will have no effect. In the same vein of thought, having a bag of peanuts in your pocket will not incite an elephant to carve a hole in your vehicle and/or you in an attempt to get them. It would much rather have some of that yummy bark from a nearby Acacia tree.
The most important way to remain safe is to stay inside your vehicle. Except for the occasional incident where an elephant attempts to get romantic with your 4 by 4, you are quite safe.
Despite this knowledge, many people still insist on abandoning the relative safety of their vehicles to get closer to an elephant. The reason for this is often an attempt to get a better photo or video of the elephant, but in reality it will most probably allow someone else to get their photo/video of you on the evening news, as you attempt to break land speed records when running away.
Up to now, all of the situations described (except for leaving your vehicle) are unlikely to result in an elephant charge. It is those people who venture into elephant territory on foot who are most at risk.
Most of the places that you can travel on foot in elephant territory are game reserves. This is a good thing as this usually means that you can hire someone to show you the way, as well as make sure that you do not die, which is always a nice bonus. The guides that you can hire for these trips are vastly experienced, and well versed in the ways of the African wilderness. They also carry big guns. The fact that the guide would rather lose a tourist or two than shoot an elephant should not worry you. Really.
If, after all of the previous advice fails you, or you failed to pay attention to the advice, and you do find yourself being charged by an elephant, there are a few things you can do.
- You can stand still. Although this is logically regarded as the best thing to do in this situation (this is because most elephant charges are bluffs) I'd like to see you try and stand still when there are several tons of miffed elephant moving towards you at a high rate of knots.
- You can run away at high speed. This would seem to make the most sense at first, but an elephant can move much much faster than you. Trust me on this fact. So if you are moving at a rate which you think would threaten the 100m world record, chances are you will receive a hefty dose of tusk up the rump, leading rapidly to the previously mentioned evening news appearance.
- You can climb a tree. This is a very popular way to escape an elephant. You must exercise good judgement when choosing which tree to climb, as many African trees tend to have rather large thorns. You may not care too much about that when you are first climbing the tree, but if you get trapped up there for several hours, you will wish you had chosen a more comfortable piece of real estate. You must also ensure that the tree you climb is too big for the elephant to push over, for obvious reasons.
- Finally we have my personal favourite. Run away, making sure that there is someone slower than you running behind you. This might sound cruel, but hey, survival of the fittest. Literally.
If after even this advice fails, and you get caught by the elephant you can do two things: you can scream and try to beat the elephant away, or you can play dead. If you attempt the former, chances are you will merely make the evening news video even more exciting. If you attempt the latter, you must just hope that the elephant does not step on something important like your head, or even more important, your camera. Eventually the elephant should grow bored, and move away to brag of his achievement to his buddies at the water hole.
I am not too sure what you should do after an elephant has successfully charged you, but I am fairly certain that a visit to the local emergency ward is a good place to start, followed by several months in traction and rehabilitation.
If you have successfully avoided the elephant charge, all you have to do is learn how to avoid attacks by: lion; hippo; rhino; cape buffalo; crocodile; and possibly most importantly, tourist shops.
DISCLAIMER: The author of this article has not actually been on the receiving end of an elephant charge. Thus he must not be held responsible for any damage resulting from the adhering to of his advice. Instead the author recommends that you stay at home and watch the evening news to see elephant charges. Not only is this much safer, but it is much more entertaining.
|||As you know (I hope) there are two species of elephant, the Indian and African. The African version is considered the nastier of the two, and so for the purposes of this article, every reference to an elephant should be seen as a reference to the African elephant.|