First – find a person having an asthma attack……………..Then find an elephant or let the elephant find you.
My wife Pixie and I own Tamboti Bush Lodge in the Dinokeng Game Reserve north of Pretoria.
This is just what happened. We were having new carports built and the contractor was creosoting the wooden poles. There was a strong smell of creosote inside the house, the Eskom power was off (9 hours). We also had another contractor installing CCTV cameras and using a generator for power and my poor wife Pixie who had been in the city all day and who has very bad asthma walked into the house got her lungs full of creosote plus the exhaust gas from the generator and had a very bad asthma attack.
One of our chefs Thabang and I carried her out of the house and into the garden to get fresh air as she could not nebulise. (no electricity) As she was trying to get her breath again and using all of her asthma pumps and medication. Thabang looked behind Pixie and saw one of the elephants very close by in the orchard. He was busy eating grapefruit from the trees in the orchard. At this time, we had fortunately put Pixie into a typist’s chair and we quickly wheeled her to the closest door and carried her back into the house and into the lounge facing the orchard. Pixie was coughing and wheezing and really struggling to breathe at this time.
All of a sudden the elephant stopped eating the grapefruit and stared at Pixie sitting wheezing very loudly in the lounge. The sliding door of the lounge was open and he was just 15 meters away and he then decided to come and investigate. He walked right up to the edge of the veranda lowered his head under the roof of the patio and just stared at her. I looked at her and then at him and they both seemed to be entranced by one another, I really thought he was going to try and get inside the house as he was looking at Pixie with so much intensity. I was standing behind Pixie holding her shoulders in case she passed out and all of a sudden I just felt her relax and she turned to me and said “I am fine” Her lungs had opened up and she could breathe again.
I was very scared he might suddenly lift up his head and take the roof off of the patio, so I walked to the door and asked him to move on. He very slowly backed away, almost as if he did not want to leave Pixie. He turned away and walked past the patio and into the garden. When you are standing just 3 meters away from this gentle giant because at that moment he was so placid, you fully understand his immense size and magnificence. In that instance so many thoughts and pictures flashed through my mind, particularly the picture of elephants walking through the reception area of a hotel in Africa to reach the marula trees that were growing in the courtyard. What really struck me while watching the video clip was the calmness that they exhibited when walking through reception with all of the guests and staff just standing gawking at them.
I stood just outside the Gym and watched as he walked through the garden and I just followed at a distance, quietly asking him to leave the trees alone. We have 85 varieties of indigenous trees at the lodge and everyone is very precious to us and when you see the damage that they have the ability to do, my concern was very much for our trees. He actually curled his trunk around the one tree to pull it out and when I asked to leave it alone he just uncurled his trunk and walked across the garden and then took one single lemon off a tree and stuck it in his mouth. I told that he should leave the lemons alone and that he could have all the grapefruit that he liked and he looked back at me as if to say OK my job here is done and then he walked out of the garden through the bush and over our 2 meter fence and left.
When I rushed back into the lounge to see how Pixie was, she was still sitting in the chair and her eyes were like saucers as she still stared out of the door. She said, that she had had one of the most amazing experiences of her life. As the elephant was looking into her eyes she felt her chest open up immediately and she could breathe normally again. She said that she never at any time felt scared just very much at peace, she felt that he was reaching right into her very soul. Such an amazing experience. Now normally it would take Pixie at the very least, even when nebulizing, about 2 hours to recover from a severe asthma attack and on a bad day up to 8 hours to fully recover. So for her to get a total recovery in about 30 seconds was a miracle indeed.