Elephants kill about 500 people every year. With these statistics in mind, imagine not one but two large elephants charging at you while honking loudly. Imagine you’re in a convertible, sitting on the hood seat, which means an elephant might start to get angry at you.
This chilling story might sound like some horrific fiction, but it takes place in South Africa.
The safari guides in Kruger National Park found themselves in this awkward position, but luckily they were familiar with elephant behavior and quickly realized that this was a false accusation.
Remaining confident and calm, the unimpressed crew banged on the hood, scaring away the charging beast that was only a few feet away from the vehicle.
One crew member even had the confidence to ask the elephant, “What’s wrong with you?”
While mastering the confidence of a safari crew will take most of us many hours, a little understanding of elephant behavior may help save your life.
How does the elephant charge?
The elephant’s charge can be a mock charge or an attack charge.
There are several reasons why it exhibits this aggressive behavior, ranging from fear to self-defense.
An elephant will make a mock or bluff charge to warn intruders to stay away from it. Elephants use this charge to investigate whether you are an enemy or not a danger.
Elephant also uses this accusation to let you know you’ve crossed the line.
Interestingly, the elephant looked scarier than a real elephant during a simulated charge. During a simulated charge, it flaps its large ears, making it appear larger than it already is. It will also let its trunk hang loosely so you can see its entire length. The largest animals on land may also engage in some displacement.
Displacement activities involve an elephant swinging a leg forward and backward or twitching its trunk. The elephant does this to show that it is hesitant to attack you or scare you away.
Keeping calm, yelling, or making noise is enough to make the elephant leave you in a simulated charge.
At the same time, if you make a real charge, the elephant may attack you. The elephant will pin its ears back, curl its trunk in and up, and charge straight at you.
What to do when you’re really charging
Although it can be scary to realize that the elephant is actually charging, you must remain calm. If you are in a vehicle, do not get out of the vehicle. Instead, shut down your engine and stay as calm as possible.
The idea here is not to make the situation worse. Instead, you must show the elephant that you are not a threat so they will let you go.
If you’re walking, stand still to show the elephant that you’re not afraid of it (even though you might tremble like a leaf). Your confidence will make it think twice and maybe change its mind about the attack.
- Watch elephants fight crocodiles to the death
- Types of Elephants: 3 Types of Elephants
- 8 Animals That Could Kill an Elephant
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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