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Charge & Tumble

Published: 20.05.2013

It was late afternoon in October, the bush still very dry, when we came across a breeding herd of elephant of approximately 20 individuals in the vicinity of the Melambeni dam at Makumu. Initially the elephant were a fair distance away and quite relaxed. Once we approached with the vehicle to get a better look, we received the unwanted attention of two particular cows in the group.

What transpired next was not something I had witnessed nor heard of before about mature elephant and certainly took me by surprise. The two cows took it upon themselves to move us away from the herd. After we moved a distance away, the two cows commenced with a joint charge shoulder to shoulder. We were moving away fairly quickly at this stage, as you do when two tons are trying to trample you! The cows were charging from behind us along the road when suddenly one elephant dropped from sight, the only evidence being a cloud of dust. Once the dust cleared we saw an elephant rocking and trying to get back on it’s feet. We went back to investigate the following morning and found that the elephant’s front foot had caught in a small eroded section on the left side of the road. She had in effect done a half cartwheel taking into account the speed she was moving when her foot caught. This definitely took the wind out of her charge and she moved away to join the herd. The second cow continued with her charge for about 300m, then she too ran out of steam.

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