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.