And the cameraman is me, read the blog and find out what not to do in the bush.
There is currently a scary article and video on Facebook of an elephant and a Volkswagen Golf in the Kruger National Park where the elephant totally annihilates the Golf. He lifts it up with his tusks turns it over, rolls it and then you see the pictures of the Golf afterwards and you wonder how anyone survived in the car, but when you watching the video you wonder to yourself how did the guy actually get into such a dumb situation, it looks like he just stood in front of the elephant and just didn’t move and you think to yourself what an idiot. Well I after 16 years in the game reserve I made an idiot of myself doing something similar and it happened so quickly that I could not believe it
I live in the Dinokeng game reserve, I have a Lodge here and I drive a game vehicle. My favourite animals are without doubt the elephants I find them fascinating and I admire their intelligence and their amazing social lives. My philosophy with regard to elephants has not been to get too close to them, stay out of their space, but that is so damn difficult because when you see them in the wild you want to hug them and just be close to them, I also do a fair amount of video work and I tried to capture some of the elements of their amazing behavior.
On a day the elephants were close by our Lodge and I took my camera and with only myself in the vehicle went off to go and take a few photographs and videos. I have a mounting on my door for a gimbal and I have a Nikon P900 with a very strong telescopic lens, but it needs to be very stable for taking videos, so I had the camera mounted in the gimbal. The gimbal is mounted on the right-hand side door, so it is sometimes difficult for me to actually video the animals. I have to get the game viewer into the right position and in this case the elephants were crossing over our road coming from an orphanage called Tsepo ya Bana and I waited until they had crossed the road, went forward, turned the vehicle around and came back. I was attempting to film Cindy as she had lost a portion of her trunk in a snare and I wanted to see how well it had healed. At this stage I assumed without counting them that the entire herd were on the right-hand side of the vehicle, and I was totally focused on Cindy. Never A.S.S.U.M.E.
YOU know the answer to that one.
I had my eye glued to the view finder and you know that feeling you get when you know that something is not right, well I had it right then. At that moment something said to me look up and I got the fright of my life. As I looked up there was Hot Stuff our largest male elephant, totally filling my entire vision he was standing right next to my vehicle with his trunk almost in my ear, I looked up and for a split second we just stared at one another. I got a fright and I started the vehicle, an automatic and slammed into reverse I thought, however I put it into drive instead and pushed down on the accelerator and the vehicle nearly whacked into poor old Hot Stuff.
He got a hell of a fright and he jumped backwards, I then really slammed it into reverse and pulled away from him and he just stood there looking at me as if to say what the heck are you doing, I backed off and while I was reversing I came across Wim another field guide and he had been standing behind me watching this whole episode and one of his guests had taken some photographs of my close encounter. we had a very relieved chat about the encounter and the guest sent a picture to me of my idiot encounter with Hot Stuff.