Expect the unexpected in the African bush, advises our writer shortly after an encounter with a charging elephant in Zimbabwe.
Expecting the unexpected is all part of life in the African bush. Take the other morning, for example. We were staying at Ruckomechi Camp in Zimbabwe, and I had just sat down with my wife, Sarah, in the staff enclosure to edit some film footage when I suddenly remembered I had left my laptop recharging in the main lodge area.
Head down and focused on my mission, I emerged at speed only to find myself on a collision course with a charging elephant. Ignoring that most sagacious piece of bush wisdom “Whatever you do, don’t run”, I legged it quickly back inside, vainly attempting to preserve a modicum of dignity. An ear-splitting trumpeting followed hard on my heels.
Back inside, to my amazement, no one seemed to have noticed. Embarrassed at my self-inflicted mishap, I quietly sat down next to Sarah and was about to give her a sotto voce rendition of my dramatic tale of near extinction when I looked around to see an elephant’s trunk making an exploratory sortie around the entrance.
The trunk was followed by a tusk, then a leg the size of a tree, and finally a head with gigantic flapping ears. Still, no one appeared to have noticed. Sarah and I then looked on in heart-stopping silence as an entire breeding herd of five elephants made their way through the enclosure, feeding as they went. At one point I could feel the matriarch’s breath on my back as she hoovered up the apple-ring pods on the tin roof above our heads.
Date: 12 October 2013