Thursday, June 29, 2006

Could have easily been flattened!

OK - so we're out on a bushwalk in an area along the Selinda spillway, just east of the Okavango Delta, which had previously been hunted. The local animals were a bit skittish of humans, because of the association. Our guide carried a .375 just in case. We were having a really nice walk. Heard a cheetah "bark" and baboons alarm call because of the cheetah. Watched impala, kudu, and lots of different birds. About 2 hours into the walk we were going through some fairly thick shrub, when the guide spotted a bull elephant about 75 meters ahead of us. We stopped and watched him forage for while. The guide figured we were on his game trail, so we back tracked a bit and went around so we could see him from a different angle and then watch him go down the path we were on. After we got into position, the elephant did exactly that. After he finished eating he started down the path were we previously on. BUT, for whatever reason he stopped, turned and came right at us. As soon as he turned the guide told everyone not to move. We were in a spot where we had very little protection, just some scrawny shrubs in front of us for camouflage. The bull didn't show any aggressive behaviors - no head shaking, no throwing dirt, no bluff charges - but he just came right at us. At 20 ft, yes 20 feet, he stopped. About this time I heard the guide put a round in the chamber of the rifle. Needless to say everyone in the group all thought "OH SHIT" to themselves (some even said it loud enough to hear) when he did this. The bull extended his ears out as wide as he could, drew his head back so his tusks were pointed right at us, and brought his trunk up to check us out. This stare down lasted about 2 or 3 minutes. He then started to walk off just to our left. One of the guys in the group snapped the above pic when he did (that's my head on the right). Sure looks like he was within 10ft at that point. He continued to walk off and then started foraging again. This was definitely a highlight of the trip, even though it could have gone so very differently.



Jim Tantillo said...

awesome, simply awesome.

and that's why we call you Safari Jim...

Ernie said...

You know JT your right, this is a great blog site to have access to. This post by Safari Jim and the story that goes alog with it is awesome to read and visualise in ones mind. Great Post!

KGT said...

the real story, from Snookered on Safari Cagey...

So after driving around the national game park aimlessly for hours seeing nothing but Impala and picnic tables, the driver of the Toyota Landcruiser, with multiple "viewing" seats made especially for students to observe wildlife, spots a traffic jam ahead. "Hmm...must be game ahead! We must approach carefully!" he shouts over the roar of the engine and the sound of the fan whirring, blowing airconditioned luxury on the intrepid natural resources adventurers.

Stealthily, the driver down shifts and jockeys around four land rovers with little bumper stickers on them indicating the companies from whom other intrepid advenureres have rented them.

The small bull elephant with 12 inch tusks continues to swish the flies away from himself and his hay bale, ignoring the mini-lightening storm of tourists snapping away, buying stock in Kodak and Fuji, living wild bush moments.

The guide can be heard jacking film rolls into his clients, all of them tyros to africa, cameras. He wears shorts and flip flops and a necklace with beads and something vaguely reminiscent of a cats claw, and a new-ish tatoo. He likes to help teh female college students out of the land cruiser.

Personally, I like the picture, though it is hard to get a picture of any wild animal without people in them becuase of those damn bench seats. Someday they'll put reclining buckets in those machines.

he he. have a gin and tonic for me, Jim...and bring a GUN to Africa one of these days. Until then, happy zoo hopping.

cagily canvassed,


Anonymous said...

I'm glad things worked out. I wouldn't want to have to take over caring for all your dogs. That, and we would've had to change your name to "Toe Jam" Jim. Long live Safari.
- Path Walker