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[Video] Naughty Elephant

At last we have a video uploaded to YouTube!

If you want to keep up with the story make sure you check the two first parts:

Our time and bandwidth are quite limited around here but after a few tries we managed to finish gathering the “best moments” of the big African elephant around the camp and upload it. Unfortunately most of the best parts were on photos only.

Even though I have a recording camera, the batteries I got months ago are the worst possible quality and most of the times the camera won’t even turn on… Because of that I missed many cool situations. On top of that, the closest village is over a 2 hour round trip and we only get to go there if it’s really necessary. To put it into perspective, the last time I went there was around 6 weeks ago…

Without further ado, here’s the video. Enjoy!


If you liked this entry, make sure you check out our Videos category.
Previous Videos entries:
Predator or Prey: Who do we cheer for?
Adam Sandler attacked by cheetah in South Africa
Impala jumps into tourist car to escape Cheetahs

The naughty elephant strikes again

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?

Adventures with the naughty elephant

You may previously remember my adventure with the sleeping elephant and how, in a previous entry, I mentioned how elephants are very naughty.
It seems that this time I met one of the naughtiest elephants around the entire wildlife reserve and he couldn’t get enough of where I live.

Big African Elephant bull (Africana loxodonta) camouflaged and peeking at us through the dense foliage.

Big elephant bull (Africana loxodonta) peeking at us through the dense foliage.

It was early morning when me and Nick were walking around the path and heard some tree shuffling and crashing sounds nearby. We are quite aware that there is only one species capable of crashing down a tree, elephant, so we got into vigilant mode immediately looking for the origin of the sound. We spotted a big elephant bull a few meters away from us having some fun with the water pipes.

Just to give you a little context on the situation, I’ll try to summarise a bit what has been happening here for the past weeks.
Last month there was a big fire that burned down completly the main lodge. Fortunately no one got injured and it did not affect the other areas of the site. However, fires can do a lot of damage and for a while there was no water, electricity or sewage as all the pipes and cables that went by the (main) area were either burned down or severely damaged. Because of that, things have been quite chaotic lately. Most of the pipes and cables have been now restored but were still laying on top of the ground as there is still management work to be done.

The elephant found the water pipes quite easily. Most of the naughty elephants will hear and sense the water flowing in pipes underneath the ground and dig them out to have a drink or a “quick shower”. This big fellow was quite lucky since there was no digging to be done. He just had to pick them up with his massive trunk and pull, push, shove, do whatever he wanted to do to obtain fresh water.

Me and Nick got into one of the vehicles and followed him from a distance as he “inspected” some of the villas in the camp. He wasn’t shy at all and walked wherever he wanted to.

The big African Elephant bull inspecting one of the villas around our wildlife camp in South Africa

The big elephant bull inspecting one of the villas around the camp.

Eventually we thought he had had enough and moved away so we got back to work. A few minutes later he was close to me peeking to check out what I was doing.

African Elephant bull gets curious and close to the lodge deck

Elephant bull gets curious about what I was up to.

African elephants can be quite aggressive when annoyed but this big guy was quite the opposite (even though some of the other members of staff kept shouting at it and trying to get him to go away). As for me, I was just talking to him softly and quietly while busy with my task. He was just curious and in the mood for a nice meal and fresh drink.

At some point he went around the burned main lodge, to the area where the pool was, and got his trunk inside, probably thinking he would get some nice water. We figured he had been here a few times before as he knew exactly what he was doing.

African Elephant male tries to drink water from where the pool was before the fire.

He tries to get water from where the pool was.

Time went by and he kept checking out the camp, reaching for leaves from every corner. At some point I didn’t know if we were following him or he was following us but either way, we seem to get along quite well. It was quite surprising how close we were to a 7 tonne wild animal that could kill us on a whim. At some point we got as close as 2 meters from him while he fed on some tasty leaves just next to the path.

African Elephant bull trying to reach and eat tasty leaves from a tree on the other side of the path.

Reaching for the tasty leaves on the other side of the path.

Big male African Elephant trying to sneak past in a South Africa wildlife camp.

Trying to sneak past.

Big male African Elephant feeding from the nearby trees just a few meters from us in the camp in South Africa.

Feeding from the nearby trees just a few meters from us.

Obviously we made sure we always had something between him and us, either enough distance, a wall or just some wooden railings. However in his quest for the best leaves there was not much that could stop him.

Big male African Elephant damaging the wooden railings while stretching to reach the leaves in the nearby tree.

He easily damaged the wooden railings when stretching to reach the leaves.

Eventually he got tired of eating and messing the pipes around looking for fresh water. By then we had turned off the water valve hoping we could stop the leakage.
Little did we know this big guy was smarter than the average elephant. As soon as he realised there was no water coming from the pipes he decided to go to the source… the water tanks!

Damage made by a big male African Elephant on our water tank

Damage at the water tank caused by his tusk.

They are protected by an electric fence so he did what any smart animal would do, he used his tusks to lift the fence and slide it over so he could pass without getting harmed.
Once inside he poked around the tanks and decided that the best and fasted way to get the water was to just make a hole in one of them with his massive tusk.
A little push was all that took to get a water jet directly to his mouth.
Me and Nick looked at each other and ran like crazy to the kitchen, got some empty water bottles and started filling them in with whatever water was left in the pipes. We knew quite well what this little misdeed of his meant, there would be no water for the near future and there was nothing we could do about it…

Just as we thought that there was nothing else he could destroy he decided to go to our improvised storage room (the original one was destroyed by the fire) and inspect it. He found a big bag of livestock food pellets and had another great meal at our expense.
One of our colleagues thought it was a good idea to throw a potato to scare him off while he was busy with the pellets. You can imagine the result… instead of a bag of livestock food he had a bag of livestock food and a potato!

African Elephant dung

Some of the remains of the elephant visit.

Eventually he wandered off leaving the entire camp with remains of his visit, pipes bent and destroyed, big piles of dung, knocked down trees and branches, some messed up wooden railings, a pierced water tank and an empty bag of food pellets!

At night me and Nick ended up taking our shower using the only (5 liter) water bottle we managed to fill while he had a go at the water tank…

It was quite an exciting day and I must confess I’ll miss the big guy. He did some intense destruction but he was so friendly that I almost wish he would be back soon!
Hope you enjoyed the story and the photos.

Até à próxima!


Edit: Click here to find out what happened with the big elephant bull came back to the camp!


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