Close Elephant Encounter at Mabalingwe

May 28, 2018

Hein Strydom, head ranger at Mabalingwe Game Reserve, told a story that he felt he had to share. A story about an interaction with the elephants of Mabalingwe.

 

He tells LatestSightings.com the story: “It was a summer afternoon and we were going about our daily duties in the park looking for the elephants.

After a long search for the elusive ellies we finally tracked them down towards the eastern parts of the reserve. As we approached the herd they seemed very relaxed, and not too bothered by our presence. I have been working with the herd for the past 6 years and never have I seen them acting in this way. All the elephants gathered around in a circle, and it seemed as if they were protecting something. At that stage I did not have a clear view of what was in the centre of the herd. Upon closer inspection, I got a glimpse of a newly born calf which must have been born a few hours or maybe even minutes prior to our arrival.

The herd was protective and trumpeting as we moved in closer to observe the new born calf. Something must have upset the elephants, I think it was our presence around them because the next movement we were caught off guard trying to move away from the herd when youngster called Jason came charging at the vehicle with no warning signs whatsoever. We know that 98% of the time, elephants will give a mock charge and then back off. This time around the youngster came charging with all his might trying to push us away from the vicinity we were in. He came rushing in right next to the vehicle, trumpeting and flapping his ears at us. This beast of an animal was either trying to scare us or get rid of us, which he did with absolute ease.

We moved away from the scene a tad shaken and came to the conclusion that we do not know the elephants as well as we thought we did. I think this serves as a lesson for us, and one should always bear in mind that elephants are wild animals and can be unpredictable. How many times have we seen wild animals, like lions and elephants, turn on their handlers? I believe that you can “tame” any animal with food, except an elephant.

We have learnt a valuable lesson here and the consequences could’ve been a lot worse. Luckily we were not with guests during this incident, but ever since then I have mulled over that if guests were with me, it would’ve been an experience of a lifetime.

 

As days went by many more exciting experiences like these were observed from a way safer distance.”

 

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