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Close Encounter of the Curious Kind …

Tracey Campbell - February 15, 2010

Guests at AmaKhosi Safari Lodge, about 3 hours from Durban, are used to their rangers taking them off road during exciting game drives in search of Africa’s Big 5 … but recently some guests got a slightly closer encounter than maybe they had bargained for !

An everso slightly curious elephant decided to investigate the Land Rover that the guests were sitting in. He came so close, it would have been possible to actually reach out and touch this gentle giant of the bush.

Ranger Philip Khumalo, however, showed why it is important for all rangers to be fully qualified and comfortable in their surroundings. He instructed his tracker to get into the vehicle, and then told all guests to remain extremely quiet and very still, and eventually the elephant, having satisfied his curiousity about this ‘strange metal thing’, wandered away.

Generally, when out on game drives, although the rangers will approach wildlife so that guests can enjoy an unbelievably close encounter, they do like to keep a respectful distance from the animals, in order not to spook or scare them – but if these animals decide to come closer on their own accord, then the ranger has to be prepared for all eventualities. A good and experienced ranger will always ensure that he has parked his vehicle at a sighting with an ‘easy exit route’ – so that he can move away if he feels that it is safe to do so without scaring or frightening the animal greatly. Guests safety always comes first.

I think it is fair to say that these guests probably didn’t need the zoom feature on their camera in this sighting !!

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