PAFURI, SOUTH AFRICA: Two safari guides gave a furious elephant the chance to stay alive as they held their nerve in front of the charging beast without shooting her. The enraged three-ton mammal reportedly charged at Devon Myers, 38, and Sean Carter, 37, at full speed and looked ready to trample them both to death. However, the highly experienced guides yelled at the elephant and stood their ground, somehow convincing the full-grown female to swerve away. The rampaging elephant subsequently broke off the attack and let them be in the wilds of the Pafuri region of Kruger National Park, South Africa.
The trumpeting elephant was just yards away from Myers and Carter, as well as their six guests who were resting beneath a tree. The duo works at African-Born Safaris, which offers private adventures off-the-beaten-path in eight countries. “It was a very close call for sure,” Myers told the Daily Mail. “If it had come a fraction of a second closer we would have had no choice. There was a herd of female elephants and their young moving quickly as they were being followed by five bull elephants keen to try their luck on them. We had picked a place to take a break from the sun in the shade of mahogany trees and it gave us a good view of what was happening all around us.”
He continued, “The elephant herd was downwind of us and would have smelt us and knew we were there so it was important to stay in cover and not get into the open. A few decided to come and check us out but could not see us in the shade which is why we stood up and shouted so they knew where we were. But the final female decided to charge and some say you can tell if it is a mock charge or a full charge depending on whether their ears are back or out. I am not so sure myself and I am sure some have paid the price for believing that to be the case and at the end of the day you just can’t take that chance.”
Myers explained, “Our fingers had taken up the slack on the triggers and we were shouting to try and divert her and standing still but she just kept on coming and coming. When she was 20 feet away, which would have been our firing position for a brain shot, she finally swerved in a swirl of dust just in the very nick of time. We dedicate our lives to the conservation of animals and the wild but if we need to save our lives and those of others, we’re not prepared to be martyrs. Both of our fingers were on the triggers and ready to fire and if it had come half a meter further then we would have had to have taken the shot. We shouted and shouted and held our ground to show we were not running to try and break its charge and fortunately for us it worked out.” The elephant cow was reportedly part of a large herd of females and calves moving quickly through the bushes to avoid the attention of young bulls.
“Some people do question why we are out in the wilderness and ‘intruding’ in the territory of wild animals,” Myers, from Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province, said. “But that is not the view of the informed as homo-sapiens have been in the African wilderness for thousands of years before the safari industry arrived. Elephants, buffalo, lions, and zebra – in fact, all animals – are all used to human beings living around them and they know exactly what we are all about.” He continued, “What we are doing out on these primitive trail walks is giving people a chance to reconnect with the wilderness in a natural but non-threatening way. It is not a thrill-seeking activity, although spotting an elephant or lion while on foot will certainly raise the pulse, but by and large we all get on together. By going off the roads used by safari vehicles we are also coming across vital intelligence of poacher activity, which we can feed back to game rangers.” Myers noted, “I have been charged a number of times by elephants but fortunately have never had to pull the trigger but this was for sure a very close call indeed. The elephant was about 30 years old and she went back to her herd and they carried on quickly moving through the bush ahead of five bulls in hot pursuit!”
It’s worth noting that a fully grown female elephant can weigh up to 3.3 tons and stand 8 feet and 6 inches at the shoulder. They can achieve speeds of up to 25 mph and can catch up to a fleeing human on open grounds. Meanwhile, male elephants can weigh up to twice as much and grow to 10 feet 6 inches at the shoulder. The herbivore species are known to kill up to 500 people a year in the wild. However, the species is listed as endangered, with only 415,000 left mainly due to poaching, according to the Daily Mail. They have a life span of 70 years and are the largest living land animal on earth,
The safaris are tailor-made for guests, but there are no tents on Primitive Trails. Visitors usually sleep under the stars and drink from rivers. “Your water comes from the streams the animals drink from and your food you carry and when you sleep you lay down and you sleep,” Myers explained.