One of the most unwelcome encounters during a walking safari, is an Elephant charge. Weighing over four thousand kilograms and capable of moving at 11 metres per second, a Matriarch on the charge is a very impressive sight. And a very scary sight too!
While walking from Kaingo Camp to Mwamba Bushcamp, Andrew Mweetwa and his guests had stopped beside a favourite lagoon for drinks. Guests of Shenton Safaris will often make the 6 kilometre trek between camps when transferring from one to the other. Because walking with one of Shenton Safaris’ experienced guides is not merely a walk, but an educational adventure that one is not able to experience while lounging on the back of a game viewer.
But no sooner had they settled down with cool drinks in their hands, when an ear-splitting squeal shattered the stillness and an adult Elephant female rushed into view, filling the camera lenses too quickly for proper focusing, as she stampeded towards the small group.
“Stand still! It’s a warning charge,” Andrew managed to get out, before she came to a dust-clouded stop, with both front feet on a fallen Mopane tree (Colophospermum mopane).
She held her head-up stance at full alert for a whole minute,
her widespread ears exaggerating her size, unnecessarily in Andrew’s opinion.
Then she angrily scooped up some dust and tossed it over herself, just as the reason for her aggressive behaviour appeared.
The young calf and other Elephants approached warily, their stiffened tails showing their states of stress, as fluids began to flow thickly from their temporal glands.
Her protective duties fulfilled, the Matriarch rumbled a communication and the herd turned as one to saunter away, their stiffened tails showing that they were still a little unsure of the presence of humans in their forest.