… who dented the car without touching it!
It was the end of another beautiful day in the bush. The sun was going down, leaving behind bright shades of purple, red and orange lingering in the skies above the horizon, slowly giving way to a curtain of darkness swallowing everything around. In the wilderness the transformation of day into night is a mysterious thing, as, suddenly, all around you, everything goes quiet for a moment, while a change is in the making. Diurnal wildlife give way to nocturnal animals, the sun makes way for the moon and millions of stars illuminating the sky, and then suddenly, the bush comes back to life again, but in a completely different way… Nightjars appear and their call can be heard in the distance and jackals start vocalizing, calling to each other – and even though the dark makes the bush seem almost lifeless, it is far from that.
We left our beautiful sundowner spot where we enjoyed a drink as we witnessed this amazing transformation from day into night. We set out on our night drive and not long thereafter, as we came up a steep hill, we suddenly came across one of the giants of the African bush. Elephants are known to be more of a handful at night as they are well aware that they have the upper hand in the darkness and what followed then, is a perfect example of this.
This lone elephant bull was feeding on a hornpod tree but unfortunately, as we were coming up a hill we only saw him at the very last moment and came to a stop at a distance of only about 10 meters of him. We obviously disturbed his meal and he made it very clear through a big head shake. Immediately we switched the car and all the lights off, as elephants do not like light to be shone on them, while we kept as quiet as possible. We did not budge as he tried to impress us with his size and exaggerated movements, and this seemed to have made him slightly curious… He then proceeded towards the vehicle to investigate and find out `who those people are that aren’t scared of me?` He came right up the front of the car showing off his size by standing sideways and holding his head high. He was a huge elephant ! As we still did not move he was quite puzzled and approaching the car, with his tusk now touching the bullbar, he started smelling us, his trunk curling over the bonnet trying to get a scent. He did that for a while and after understanding who we were, he wanted to find out how far he could go, and what our reactions would be. He started pushing the car with his tusks. This was the limit, I thought to myself, and I calmly asked him not to push the car and to be careful of what his next move will be.
Surprised by our reaction he took a step back and stopped. Although that wasn’t enough of a warning, he still was very inquisitive, wondering how far he could still push his luck! He stood his ground for a good five minutes, deciding what he was going to do next, and finally, after mustering all his courage, he acted. Suddenly a big banging noise, and the whole car rattled! It was a rock that had hit the car! That was his next move, he threw a massive rock at the car which hit the bullbar and dented it! That could not be tolerated, so I raised my voice and told him that this was unacceptable, `Don’t you throw rocks at us!! What is up with you?! Go away!!’, I shouted.
He suddenly realized he pushed the limits too far and dashed away from us at a very quick and alarmed pace, but not long after, settled down and went back to feeding on a nearby tree. What a crazy experience! Whoever was falling asleep in the vehicle was by now, fully awake as we slowly moved away, leaving the elephant to his dinner and got back on the road to enjoy the excitement of once again not knowing what was waiting for us around the next corner…