Articles: The Kruger National Park ...
Do Not Get Out of Your Vehicle ... It is Dangerous.
The Kruger Park rules state very explicitly and for good reason ... do not get out of your car. Here's an elephant situation that happened in May 2006 that illustrates why the rule is there ...
Loud Trumpeting Elephant
Shortly after joining the S50 heading towards Kanniedood Dam I parked in a small way-by to enjoy a leisurely view of the river and switched off my engine. I had been stopped about a 5 minutes or so when I heard one of the loudest noises I have ever experienced. Not only was the trumpeting noise loud it sounded distinctly threatening and it obviously came from a big elephant which was out of sight but obviously close by. The noise came from over my left shoulder.
I decided it was time to get back onto the road so that at least I wasn't "trapped" in a small way-by with the only way out backwards on a narrow track.
The junction with the road was about 20 metres or so and as I arrived at the junction not more than 15 metres to my right (very very close) was the "noisy" elephant accompanied by about 4 others heading down the middle of the road in the same direction I was heading. I didn't hang around to count the elephants hence my quick estimate.
I quickly turned left and headed off down the road quite safe and sound.
I should make it clear that the elephants had not come to "get me" and they certainly did not chase me ... they happened to be in the spot that I also chose to be in at the same time. In view of my recent elephant encounter I was not that keen just to stick around and that trumpeting noise seemed to have been a message.
The Kruger Park is not a zoo and it is important to be vigilant. The animals own the park not us ... we are on their territory and should never abuse that. There have been many many thousands of elephant encounters over the years and the vast majority have no consequence other than for us to remain in awe of such powerful animals. On the odd occasion however there have been serious consequences.
Stay your distance when it comes to elephants and as I have said before if you find yourself in a "trapped" situation remain calm and do not make any noise. Just let the elephants pass by which is what they will do even if it does seem to take forever and that you have never remained so still and quiet for so long in your entire life. It is an adventure you will live to cherish and never forget.
3 Stupid People
A short distance further down the road I encountered 3 people out of their car in another way-by. They beckoned to me to come and look at what they had seen ... I gathered it was a hippo close to the river's edge. I suggested they get back in their car. I asked if they had heard the elephant trumpeting and they had. I then told them they were in the path of the approaching animals and if for no other reason than that they should consider driving away immediately.
This is the kind of situation that elephants and other animals would see as threatening and those 3 people apart from disobeying very strict rules about staying in vehicles at ALL times were literally putting their lives at risk.
Think about this ... let's say the elephants had decided to use this way-by as their route down to the river to drink and this is a very likely option. The 3 people would somehow have to (1) see the approaching elephants (2) quickly get back into the car (3) start the car (4) and then somehow get away which was impossible in the place they were parked. Such behaviour would undoubtedly have enraged and worried the elephants and who knows what could have happened.