A group of tourists got a shock in Zimbabwe recently when an elephant stormed their brunch table and pushed into two members of their party.
Now, a video of the incident published to YouTube on Sept. 4 is going viral with 190,000 hits and counting.
Shane Wolf, the man pictured above, posted the video. A California native, he was travelling in Zimbabwe with his family in honour of his dad’s 65th birthday and his own 30th birthday. The other man in the video is his brother-in-law, Stephen.
The video shows the two men sitting at the table outside as an elephant approaches.
“We had been around elephants many times,” he told TI. “This camp we were at in Mana Pools literally had elephants walking around camp at all times of the day.”
Normally, the elephants — which even showed up outside the doors of the campers’ tents — would walk by and mind their own business.
Ten minutes earlier, another elephant and its baby had walked up the same hill, looked at the tourists, and moved on.
“We stayed still and everything worked out,” Wolf said.
But soon, it became clear that this male elephant wasn’t going anywhere.
Wolf didn’t want to make any sudden movements, so he was watching the elephant in the reflection of his wife’s sunglasses — she’s seated to the right, off screen. But then, the elephant’s reflection “started to get bigger,” he said.
“Then, when it got really close, I realised something was about to happen,” he said. “But it all happened s ofast I didn’t have time to really react.”
Before they knew it, he had reached the table and was pushing into the two men.
“I was shocked when it threw its head and tusk at us,” Wolf said. “It was moving slowly and did not trumpet or do anything aggressive. They have terrible eyesight but great [sense of] smell, so when it got close, I was startled a bit and the havoc ensued.”
The tusk felt “extremely smooth” and the skin was “very leathery,” Wolf said.
Then, the elephant gets out of there as quickly as he arrived. The power of the tusk was “amazing,” Wolf said. “The tusk just lifted me up. It definitely hurt a bit and felt a bit like getting hit by a 90 mph fastball.”
Still, the elephant “wasn’t really trying to hurt us,” Wolf said. “It was just investigating and moving us to the side.”
“I wasn’t ever really scared for my life,” he said. “Being around elephants and learning from the guides, I knew my life wasn’t in danger. I also didn’t get up and run, because running from an elephant or wild animal is always the wrong thing to do. So I slowly got up and moved away.”
After the elephant was shooed away, Wolf said, “we saw it hiding behind a tree looking at us with its ears tucked back and a very somber look. It really looked like the elephant knew it did something wrong. They are extremely intelligent.”
Now that the video is going viral, Wolf hopes people realise not only that his family wasn’t provoking or feed the elephant, but also that they fully support African tourism and conservation.
“Elephants are in danger, and tourism is one of the ways to help their survival in the wild, believe it or not,” he said.
Here’s the video in full.
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