We were all silent, eyes glued to the enormous creature before us. The long trunk curling and uncurling with ease. Fascinating ears move back and forth to cool it down. The size was remarkable since it was only three years old. When the guide said small elephants tend to show off in front of humans, we were all intrigued. We pulled forward a bit and then stopped. The elephant had tried to scare us away by rushing at us and trumpeting loudly and spreading its ears to the side. She was determined to see us gone. It craved the pride and glory of running us out of her territory.
It charged at our jeep, tusks pointing straight in my direction. It stopped about a meter from my face, its intense black eyes staring into mine. It was the strangest feeling, not quite fear because excitement overcame the fear. It trumpeted a loud distinctive sound and continued to stare us down with its unyielding glare. Then it waited for us to move. We just sat there.
Now angered, it tore down branches to show its frustration. We drove forward and it sprinted to follow us, trumpeting at it ran. To the elephant's surprise we broke out in laughter at its attempt to scare us. Once we thought it had had enough, we drove off still chuckling at the events that had unfolded in front of us.
One eventful night at Elephant Plains on our game drive. I've never had to use the term face-to-face as literally as I did that day.
By Jamie Gibson
Picture below of elephant before it got really close and the photographer got distracted!