What to do about that elephant in the room…

Play dead of course!

I’m not talking about feigning ignorance about an important subject that you’d rather not talk about. I’m actually talking about what to do when confronted by a real elephant.

A Yorkeshireman has been rather unpleasantly gored in the leg by a grumpy elephant whilst on holiday in Kenya. His method of avoiding further injury was to drop to the ground and play dead until the elephant lost interest and wandered off.

Whilst I’m impressed with Jonathan Sykes’s lucky escape, his adventures raise a more worrying question:

What on earth was the guide thinking in leading a group of tourists out into the bush to get closer to an elephant?

Going on safari is not like visiting some pleasant country farm, where there is an opportunity to pet the animals. The wonder of a safari is getting to see these exotic wild animals happily existing undisturbed in their natural habitat.

Somehow the fact that an elephant is a wild animal weighing several tonnes and with equivalent physical strength seems to have been forgotten in this situation and it’s no surprise that he didn’t take kindly to being disturbed. Elephants are rarely aggressive creatures, but this one clearly felt threatened when approached by a group of eager tourists armed with cameras, and responded only naturally. After all, I would probably react in a similar fashion if surrounded by the paparazzi.

There are several reasons why it’s not a good idea to venture away from campsites in the middle of safari parks, and grumpy elephants are usually the least of your worries. However, the guide in this case seemed to be a little too overconfident in his knowledge of the native wildlife.

I can only hope that this story serves as a lesson to arrogant safari guides and inquisitive tourists, to treat wild animals with the respect they deserve, and enjoy safaris for the fascinating scenery and the glimpses they offer into the exotic lives of such creatures.

Yet true stories often fade into myths, as a friend of the family can testify. A story of a lady waking up in her tent with an elephant standing on her hair seemed an unlikely, yet comic tale when I first heard it as a child, but was verified by the lady herself the last time I was on safari in Africa.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bradford/8279861.stm

Published in: on September 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

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