Last Tuesday we were driving through the park on our way home from town when we noticed a mini-bus parked on the side of the road. This usually means there is something worth looking at, so we slowed down to see what they had stopped for and pulled up behind them. Every head in the bus was turned to the right, necks craning as they tried to get a better look at something there in the bush. We followed the direction of their gaze, struggling at first to see what it was – and then suddenly there they were! Lumbering slowly into view came an elephant cow with her very small calf and an older sibling also in tow.
We sat watching and hoping for the opportunity for some decent photos when she suddenly lifted her head and looked directly into Piet’s eyes. She uttered a low, rumbling sound, shook her head and started moving directly towards our truck.
At this point Piet engaged gears and quickly pulled out into the road. By the time we had passed the mini-bus the elephant was on the road, running after us and screaming; her ears pinned back and her trunk down. She too overtook the mini-bus, its stunned occupants gaping after us, open-mouthed. She appeared intent on catching only us and it was only after we had retreated some distance that she turned around and loped off, back into the bush to join her two children.
The elephants in our park are not normally aggressive but I have a theory about why this cow took umbrage. I reckon that she belongs to one of the many herds that regularly raid our crops in the winter months. The vehicle we were traveling in is the same one Piet uses for his nightly chasing-the-elephants-out-of-our-crops escapades. She most likely recognised the sound of the vehicle and probably also the smell of Piet, associating those two things with being harassed and deprived of our juicy, tasty maize (corn) and wheat when there’s not much else around to eat. She remembered her frustration and here was the perfect opportunity for her to show us just how annoyed he had made her so many times in the past.
Indeed, an elephant never forgets!