Having lived in a region where there are lots of elephants, I do tend to blog about them rather a lot. Forgive me for this indulgence, but they are such beautiful animals and I have such a great respect for them. I noticed in a newspaper report last week that two Asian visitors to the Kruger National Park in South Africa had their vehicle trampled when they were charged by an angry elephant. This is always a danger when humans encroach on the space of wild animals and especially elephants. The sad thing is that humans always come off second best in these encounters – except when the poor elephant is shot for the sins of the visitors.
Fortunately I wasn’t around to see if these tourists provoked the elephant into charging, but they must have done something to annoy it because they are now both in hospital and their vehicle is in the scrapyard. When we were staying at Xakanaka in Moremi, Botswana, we saw how foolish people can be when they are on holiday in the wild. We were staying in an unfenced campsite on the edge of the Okavango Delta and had elephants around us daily. We always retreated when we saw them, feeling so privileged to share their space.
For almost a week a big bull elephant wandered in every day and waded into the swamp next to our campsite. In fact we woke up one morning and found ourselves eyeball to eyeball with the elephant. It was quite scary and poor Rob had to make a hasty retreat out of our rooftop tent to a safe spot. The elephant was not concerned with our presence and grazed the entire day just meters from our campsite.
Imagine our annoyance when ‘our’ elephant was disturbed in his peaceful grazing by a group of four tourists who walked right up to the waters edge and provoked him into coming after them. Once they had his attention and he was seeing them off, the husband positioned himself with his camera to get a shot of the elephant going after his wife. Fortunately for the lady concerned there was a tree behind which she could take refuge, because the elephant was clearly annoyed.
They then all came over to our campsite and lured the angry elephant towards us, not only endangering us, but putting our vehicles and campsite set up in danger of being trashed. When we told them how stupid they were, they said they knew all about elephants and there was no danger when a male elephant was feeding on its own. Maybe one day those famous last words will be on their gravestones.
If you happen to recognize these silly people, perhaps you can talk some sense into them while they are still alive. We certainly couldn’t. The Africans have a good name for these kinds of folks – Mampara’s! Which means ‘idiots’.