Surviving Africa

Marilyn Dawn By Marilyn Dawn, 6th Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Africa>South Africa>Major Game Parks

When a family outing to a local Game Reserve becomes a race for survival, out-smarting a 12ft raging bull elephant.

Surviving a Rampaging Elephant

This was to be our families first visit to a nature reserve. It was also the first holiday we had had for the past three years. My son was 8 years old and we had traveled up to St Lucia. From the moment we left Durban the rain came down. We were so disappointed because we had not been on holiday for so long. We had scrimped and saved to afford just these four days. Determined not to let the rain stop us, we had our entire holiday in the rain. From a great lagoon ride watching hippo and crocodiles fight for territory to seeing amazing birdlife. It was on the third day that we decided to visit the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi game reserve.

It was established in 1895 and it is one of the oldest game parks that house the Big 5. The Big 5 is Elephant, Rhino,Lion,Leopard and Buffalo. Personally I think the Hippo should make this list as they hold the record of killing the most humans. So this game reserve has all of the Big 5. When you ride through the gates you are told to not open windows too wide or exit your car anytime during the drive because of real lions and leopards that may attack.

Did I already mention it was raining? Well luckily the rain slowed to just a light drizzle. We chose not to have a game ranger take us, partially due to the cost and as my husband likes to drink beer while he is off work.

Hey, he works hard enough so why should it bother me? For one reason and possibly the most important, he was driving. He is well used to drinking over a dozen beers normally but luckily we only had a few.

So we driving along and my genius husband sees what to him appears as a flesh eating vulture, all excited he kind of follows it going off the main road to get a better view. The beast of flight turns out to be no other than a Hadada Ibis , the most common large bird found in Africa. The locals refer to it as a 'Hardidah', because of the sound it makes.To top off the experience he parks the car in a huge puddle which is a disguised hole. To my horror he asks me to get out and help push the car out of the hole. The male chauvinist explanation being that I may not be able to drive it out properly and we will get stuck worse. I considered those words and then thought about the lions and leopards ripping at my intestines, so I did what any married woman of fifteen years...I compromised. I told him if I could not push the car out in five minutes we had to switch.

Nervously I step out and look around, the bush had been deserted just like the first 30 minutes of entering the reserve. Only the bird stood watching with it's big eyes. I close the door my only exit to sure death and walk to the back of the car. I get the smug idiot in all his safety telling me to just push the right side as only that Tyre was in the hole.
In South Africa the right side is the drivers side that means I was quite a distance from my door and sure safety. So he puts the car into first and easily (possibly extra strength from fear) I push the car out of the hole. I am walking around to his window to check he is clear when I hear a sound coming from the rear of the car. My body goes cold, my eyes resembled saucers of fear, with a spurt of adrenalin I dive, yes literally dive over the bonnet. Kind of something you would see in a Starsky and Hutch movie. Land on my feet , if I had not been so scared I would have been proud, and open my car door and jump in. Locking the door behind me, as if a hungry lion could open a car door anyway.

Inside the car my husband and son are laughing their heads off, I am ready to have a heart attack from fear and they are laughing. When I heard why, I almost shoved them both out the car. There lying behind the car is a rock, while I had been pushing the car his lordship in front had reached out and grabbed a rock and flung it behind. The rock had made enough noise it convinced me something was there.

It was another 30 minutes before we saw anything else. It was well worth the wait because there in the center of the road stood the hugest African Bull elephant I had ever seen. Two meter high trees were nothing for him to snack on, he could easily reach even the highest branches. He was easily 12 ft tall and he was not old and wrinkled ,but beautiful and fit. I opened the car door ,all fear gone to get a good shot of this beautiful beast. While taking the shot my son innocently pointed out to the side and a little behind us was a small elephant. He began to explain how cute it was, we could not see it and the relationship to the magnificent species in front never dawned on us untill we heard the branches cracking.

To the side of me a smaller yet still large elephant came from the bush with her baby elephant next to her. I realised we had walked in on a family picnic, I glanced at the bull elephant his pose had changed he was not eating but flapping his enormous ears at us. I got in the car and calmly told my husband to drive. Being a little inebriated he kind of delayed and drew my attention to the fact the bull elephant was know flapping his ears faster. I screamed, drive! My high pitched sound got through to him and we reversed down the road, the elephant continued walking at a fast pace towards us flapping his ears, so we reversed further and watched from a distance. Another car, blue in colour went past us and past the elephants. We waited a few more minutes then tried to pass the elephants in our grey passat. As we got nearer the Bull elephant stepped into the road, flapped his ears ,picked up a trunkfull of sand and snorted it out through his trunk like a cloud of steam. It was the most scary magnificent sight I had ever seen, then he started running at us. We all started screaming.

At that point I knew why I was still married to my drinking husband, in milliseconds he sobered,slammed the car into reverse and reversed us back down the road, it was half a kilometre before the elephant stopped chasing us. With a final flap of his ears and more dust being spewed through his nose we reversed further.It was obvious we could not pass that way. We turned the car and looked for another route to get out. Our trip was over all we wanted was to go back to the safety of our crime filled town.

We found a back road that appeared hardly used as in some parts it was a bit overgrown. The road appeared longer than the one we had been on and after about 40 minutes we saw all the animals that we had not seen before. There were lion, hyena's, a very friendly Giraffe that stuck his head in our window for a good scratch, Rhino, all kinds of buck,zebra and birds. The only beast we did not see were the leopards. It was wonderful and my camera was filled with pictures.

We had survived a vicious elephant attack, however we made a pack to never report it, I did not want to see this beautiful beast killed for just defending his family. If ever you go to a nature reserve remember that the animals are wild, read the signs that they emit when you are getting to close,watch around you and be careful not to go between females and their young. And certainly never go between a Bull Elephant and his family.


Angry, Danger, Death, Elephant, Nature Reserve, Rampaging, Scared, South Africa

Meet the author

author avatar Marilyn Dawn
I have an incredible amount of curiosity and I love to learn about new things. So my writing can focus on anything and everything. From non-fiction to fiction, anything that sparks curiosity.

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author avatar Marilyn Dawn
13th Oct 2014 (#)

For all who read it please tell me what you think about the story. It is a true story ...this time.

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
25th Oct 2014 (#)

nice post and thanks for sharing it with us

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author avatar Marilyn Dawn
26th Oct 2014 (#)

Thanks Ajay.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
8th Dec 2014 (#)

A providential escape from the elephant and also when pushing the car earlier. I have seen video clips of lions attacking those who venture out of cars despite the warning.They do what comes naturally to them, so better to heed the warning signs! siva

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author avatar Marilyn Dawn
8th Dec 2014 (#)

Thanks Siva, you are completely correct. Africa is a wild place and many forget the animals in reserves are still wild.

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author avatar Marilyn Dawn
27th Apr 2016 (#)

Sorry Anna, but I do not give out my personal email I am a extremely private writer.You more than welcome to inbox me via this site.

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