A Woman with Attitude
We had had brilliant game viewing over the past four game drives, with great encounters with various species on the reserve.
The only animal we had not seen at all was elephant, which we decided to make the focus of our morning drive. I was driving a great couple from New York who had nine years of safaris under their belt, sent to me via, possibly the greatest travel agency out there, the African Adventure Company.

First thing in the morning I decided to head north towards the Manyaleti border in search of one of the breeding herds of elephant that had been foraging around our area. I remember bantering with my guests about our common fondness of, whom I refer to as ďMy Darling Mrs. NoltingĒ, one of the Owners of African Adventure Company and how my guest should make a plan and meet her, as he had not had the pleasure after years of dealing with her.
We had been meandering along taking in any birds available on route when William, our tracker, spotted a breeding herd of elephants in the tree line, close to two hundred and fifty meters away.
The first thing that was immediately obvious is that this herd was in a state of panic and on the run at a slight angle away from us. Owing to how far away we were from them, it was clear we had nothing to do with this state of high alert and having had nasty, unavoidable run ins with lady eleís in a high state of panic, had no inclination in getting involved in their affairs, so immediately killed the engine, so as not to increase their clear tension.
I was just telling my guests that it was a pity that they were so freaked out and would have to go in search of a calmer bunch, when I noticed that a female who was keeping pace and direction with the herd, but trailing the herd by around thirty meters had suddenly and silently changed her run and was aiming straight at our vehicle.
Recognizing the signs I started the vehicle, the engine painfully taking on the third turn, in terms of time this cow had gained fifty meters on me and was closing fast. William was still in the front of the vehicle in the tracker seat and I needed to get him off there.
By this stage of the proceedings she had blasted into the road ahead of us down to forty meters and still no sign of stopping, at this stage I decided to rev the engine to hopefully startle her and let her know we werenít backing down.
No affect what so ever, at this stage of the game it was critical to get William off the front of the car and out of the sights of this silent and highly determined woman. We were both screaming at her, William frantically waving his arm in the air at her, but amazingly she was having non of it and clearly wanted something to pay for placing this demon in her mind, whatever the hell that demon isÖ.??
We were now down to twenty meters and clearly this lady was hell bent on destruction, after narrowly missing a tree I now had to make some kind of ground to, to give me enough time to save Williams life. I donít recall even looking behind me as we were on an open area and the road fairly straight. I had my hand on my pepper spray can, but something told me not to use it. The reason came to mind that this woman is already going ballistic and if I now throw pepper spray into her thundering down on me demeanor, it might push her too far. We managed to increase the distance to about thirty meters, when I decided this was crunch time, either we watch William being smashed to death by an irate female elephant or I take whatever ferocity she wants to dish out on my side of the vehicle. There was ultimately one choice I had and I took it. I swung the back of the vehicle off the road at an oblique angle to this large grey bundle of anger bearing down on me, for two reasons. The first is it would at least place some kind of barrier between William and this woman and secondly I did not want her to have the chance of a ninety degree assault as she could more easily flip the vehicle. The second before I had to turn, was the first time she had made a sound and let rip with an infuriated scream and that had me very worried. Not that she had screamed at us but that she had made no sound up till this point.
I turned the car giving William the time to get into the car and the elephant time to do what ever it was she had in mind. I still thought at this point that she would stop as I have had cows stop a bone trembling three meters away from me in the past, but my hope of this faded fast as she started to dominate my field of view. When she made a glorious arrival at my side of the car just in front of where my door would be, and remember watching her head gracefully dropping down and smashing into the side of the car. She was so close at this point I could have pulled a hair from her ear hole.

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I remember thinking it strange that she approached the car and would have been easier for her to use the right side of her face, but she decided to turn and use her left side. I think it was at this stage that I thought well at least I get to die by an elephant and hopefully her smashing me up would be enough to satiate her demons, so that William and my guests survive.

To my surprise she bashed into us and what I found interesting was I saw no anger in her eye which was just above the fender focusing on her target for destruction, but she might have either got a bit of a fright that this thing she had hunted down was damn hard on the face. Or she must have been a bit tired after her three hundred meter sprint. But she hit us once and took off after the herd. To say for once in my life I was speechless was an understatement. The whole sequence of events was more one of horrific fascination but not one of fear; any how I have mulled it over in my head and over and over.

I have heard almost all of the theories of how to deal with an elephant charge and evaded a physical encounter with some pretty nasty elephants, for twenty three years. But as always there is going to be the exception to the rule.
Her ears werenít pulled back. Her trunk wasnít really curled up.

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The one signal that I instinctively knew I was in trouble with her was that she made no sound, until just before she bashed me. The other theory that this put to bed for me is that if a female leaves the herd to charge you; she is unlikely to do what this lunatic did.
You can kick it around in a thousand ways and analyze it from all angles for all your worth. But thankfully she made her point with only one bashing and didnít hang around to inflict upon us what she is truly capable of.
My guests were incredible and handled the entire show incredibly well. It only really hit me how close it was when we all got out of the area to enjoy coffee with quadruple shots of Amarula in them; after all we were celebrating life.
As for the lady elephant, I can only say that at some stage of her life somebody with a vehicle has been really nasty to her and she definitely wonít forget whatever those acts may have been. I hope she finds peace with her demons someday.

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