Elephant survival skills
Our campsite at Savuti was almost infested with elephants. They see tents as solid objects fortunately, and are very careful not to stand on them, but occasionally you can push them too far...
Why are they attracted to this area? The acacia trees. In the late 19th century animal populations were hammered by a combination of hunting, rinderpest and tsetse fly. Acacia seedlings were thus allowed to grow to maturity whereas normally elephants and other animals keep them down. Thus all the big acacias in this campsite are 100-110 years old. The elephants wander in, wrap their trunks around the, er, trunks, give them a good shake, and then hoover up the fallen seed pods. Standing under one of the trees at the time, I jumped aside in case rattling seed pods were followed by heavy branches.
And then I stepped out from the circle of tents, brought up my camera...and a particularly large male elephant decided it had had enough and charged me....
I have to admit I broke the land speed record. I ran through, and snapped, several tent guy lines without being tripped over. When I eventually stopped and looked back, the elephant had hardly changed position. It was a mock charge: it had tired of my presence and just wanted me out of the way.
But I was a lucky fool. Just over the border in Zimbabwe, a geologist was trampled to death by an elephant that month, and a few weeks later one of our two vehicles was rammed by a protective female and the chassis was buckled.
I did get a fantastic, frame filling, wide-angle shot of it just before it charged though.
This is just one of the stories from my Botswana talk