Wildlife TV

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The naughty elephant strikes again

on November 8, 2013

If you are following us on Facebook or Google+ you already know that the naughty elephant from my previous entry came back.

I guess I was right when I said he couldn’t get enough as he returned to get some more!
This time he knew exactly where to go; No more wandering around ripping off water pipes aimlessly or destroying wooden decks around the camp for no purpose. He marched directly to the improvised storage where he got the food pellets last time and probed the area with his trunk. Very quickly he found two big bottles of molasses and managed to lift one up over the wall using his powerful trunk.

Big elephant bull (Africana loxodonta) checks out what can be stolen from the other side of the wall

Big elephant bull (Africana loxodonta) checks out what can be stolen from the other side of the wall

Took me a while to realise what he had stolen. We were shocked. Why on Earth would the lodge store molasses (or even food pellets) in the open in an unfenced area in the middle of a wildlife reserve with all the big 5? I guess the other staff realised it quite quickly and managed to “save” one of the molasses bottle while the elephant was busy with the first. That did not go very well with the big bull that kept threatening and charging in an attempt to scare them into giving him the last bottle of sweet liquid.

Trying to open a big bottle and drink its contents without the use of opposable thumbs is quite a task but this big and experienced fellow knew exactly what to do.
First a bit of a 7 tonne squeeze using his front feet, then a small poke with his massive tusk and finally it was good enough to carry it to his mouth using the trunk.

Big male African Elephant using his foot to squeeze a molasses bottle.

Squeezing the molasses bottle using his enormous weight


Big male African Elephant using his left tusk as a tool to pierce through the thick molasses bottle

Using his left tusk to pierce through the thick molasses bottle


Big male African Elephant eating molasses from a bottle he stole. His truck is dirty with molasses.

Getting his well deserved reward

Most of his morning was spent trying to get the most from the bottle contents, either by squeezing it, sucking on it or cleaning the vegetation and gravel around.

Eventually he realised that all this sweet stuff made him thirsty. We had already seen it coming and we knew from last time that the electrical fence wouldn’t stop him from reaching the water tanks so this time we decided to put one of the game vehicles in front of the entrance for the water boma, hoping it would make him think twice.
In front of the car and realising what we had done, he checked the surrounding area trying to find a way in. Eventually he gave up, went to the water hole in front of the camp and took a nice nap under the shade of trees.

Big male African Elephant in front of a game drive vehicle.

Elephant contemplating how to get to the other side

At the site we relaxed a bit and carried on with our duties. It was in the afternoon when a staff rushed to me shouting that the elephant was now inside the water boma!
It seems that while he was resting he was also plotting a way to get in while we weren’t looking. Somehow he went to the vehicle at the entrance again and decided the best way to get in would be to just squeeze between the car and the wooden poles. This may have worked fine on the way in but as he wanted to get out, people were rushing to see what was happening and he panicked and forced himself out causing a big destruction on the way out.

Big male African Elephant panicking and forcing himself out of the water boma damaging whatever was in his way

Panicking, he forced himself out of the water boma damaging whatever was in his way

While inside he had gone to the same water tank he pierced last time and made two new holes in the hopes of getting fresh water.

By this time there was only me and two other members of staff around. Apart from when I approached him to get a photo of him trying to squeeze through, I was always either inside the house or on the deck. He seemed quite a peaceful bull in general, just wanting to have some fun but he was already a bit annoyed at the fact he didn’t get the second bottle of molasses and I didn’t want to tempt fate too much.
The other two members of staff did not share my concerns as I found them chasing the elephant by throwing rocks at him. It was one of the most idiotic scenes I’ve seen around here and I do NOT advise anyone to handle an elephant this way.
I noticed him suddenly rushing from one side of the house to the other and then I saw the two other staff members running around with rocks. At some point the elephant was just a few meters away from them, face to face with tiny humans carrying rocks to throw at him, and I could only shout at one of them to quickly run up the stairs to the deck to avoid being trampled to death.
For some random reason the other decided it was best to run through the rocky path behind the house where there’s no safe area to keep a 7 tonne animal away. Luckily the elephant did not see him and we did not end our day mourning…

The elephant probably got tired of all the non-sense and walked off. Unfortunately my colleagues are absolutely convinced that throwing rocks at him was what made him leave and there doesn’t seem like anything I say will change that fact. Lets just hope that next time I’m also around to save their asses again…

Overall the elephant used and abused a bottle of molasses, did a bit more damage on the water tank and destroyed the entrance to the water boma while damaging the game vehicle.
It was another busy day…

Molasses bottle destroyed by big African Elephant.

Destroyed molasses bottle

Water tank damaged by a big male African Elephant that made several holes with his tusk

Two additional holes made by his tusk on the water tank


Entrance to the water boma damaged as a big male African Elephant tried to squeeze past on his way out

Entrance to the water boma damaged as he tried to squeeze past on the way out

A video of the elephant being naughty coming soon!

Até à próxima!



If you liked this entry, make sure you check out our Mammals category.
Previous Mammals entries:
Adventures with the naughty elephant
Nonverbal communication between humans and animals
Predator or Prey: Who do we cheer for?

3 responses to “The naughty elephant strikes again

  1. Alison Jobling says:

    This is amazing – that he was both so cunning and so calm in the face of human presence/provocation. Great use of elephant initiative.

    • Wildlife TV says:

      The silly humans that tried to chase him out with rocks are just lucky that he was a very calm fellow. I don’t think most elephant bulls would take that sort of nonsense lightly.


      • Alison Jobling says:

        Very much so: most animals (which includes humans) don’t respond well to being attacked, and when you’re that big you can pretty much do whatever you want.

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