The Elephant Run ... Charged by 2 Angry Elephants on Pafuri Punda Maria Road
Late in the afternoon of May 15th I was returning to Punda Maria camp intending to take the S59 road back to Punda Maria. The S59 dirt road leaves the the H1-8 close to waypoint 14 which is also close to the point where the power cables from Mozambique cross the main road.
As I approached I saw 2 elephants close to the road about 2 to 300 metres apart and both on the right hand side. They were grazing. I slowed down and approached as I have done many times expecting the first elephant to either take no notice of me or to move back further away from the road. Earlier in the day I had seen 3 elephants (click the image to see larger view) at this same spot but further from the road at a borehole drinking point called Mandadzizi.
As I drew level with the first elephant it suddenly and with no warning charged out of the bush and directly at me. I was committed to driving forward and had no time whatsoever to consider reversing. I was now acutely aware that I was approaching a second elephant. I slowed down in an attempt not to alarm the elephant.
When I was about 50 to 70 metres away suddenly and remarkably quickly the elephant charged into the middle of the road and headed directly towards me. At this stage I was deeply concerned since the elephant was running quickly towards me in a very agitated and threatening way. I had to reverse and my vehicle (Chrysler Voyager) is not an easy one to reverse at speed.
The rest is a bit of a blur although I was conscious as I approached the first elephant going backwards that he was ready to charge again. I just accelerated as fast as possible and managed to avoid the charge from this first elephant. I continued to reverse until I had enough space to turn around on the narrow road and headed back about 7 kms to the S60 dirt road that also led to Punda.
This was a very unsettling experience and for the next few days I was very sensitive to close encounters with elephants. On the next day at Babala picnic spot I witnessed another scary elephant incident that culminated in this elephant being shot dead because it was considered to be far too dangerous.