YouTube video shows how not to deal with an elephant

2014-01-15 00:00

“F*** they are brave” is one of the sentiments expressed on a YouTube video as tourists in a blue hatchback tried to pass a wounded bull elephant walking on a dirt road in the Kruger Park.

Seventy-nine seconds later the amateur videographer first urges a man called Ben to reverse and then, as the elephant rolls the blue Golf over in the dust, yells at Ben to “Drive! Drive! Drive!”.

Jans de Klerk, a South African who lives in the UK, and his fiancée Sarah Brooks was attacked by the bull.

Brooks was seriously injured when one of the elephant’s tusks penetrated the back of her hip. She was discharged from the Nelspruit Medi-Clinic a week later. The driver, De Klerk, was not seriously injured.

His attempt to pass the bull was captured by a group of unidentified people in a vehicle about 100 metres behind them. They quickly realised De Klerk was not an old hand at elephant encounters of the closer kind.

On the video a woman says “Do they want to pass the elephant? That won’t be clever.”

A man’s voice warns the driver, Ben, to keep watching the elephant. A woman’s voice adds: “If they do something stupid, we must reverse immediately. Keep your distance.”

As the tension escalates, the women all plead with Ben to reverse and then gasp as De Klerk fails to reverse when the bull challenges his car.

As Ben finally reverses rapidly, a woman says: “Guys, he will murder them.”

As the bull starts to gore the hatchback, one woman’s voice says: “They’re dead, they’re dead. His thing is in”.

The video has since joined the scores of other “elephant attacks car” videos on YouTube. It was uploaded by Kruger Sightings, a website where visitors to the Kruger Park can post images of the animals they caught on camera.

Kruger Sightings said the video was made two weeks ago.

Acting spokesperson for the Kruger Park, Lerato Mathole, said it was decided to shoot the elephant bull because the injuries it had suffered before the attack would have led to his death.

“The injuries could have affected his behaviour. He was also in musth.” Bulls in musth are always highly aggressive with very high testosterone levels.

Mabasa said tourists must take heed of an elephant’s first warnings. The elephant that attacked De Klerk and Brooks had twice flapped its ears at the car to get it to back off.

“I saw the video and also saw how the tourists did not really make way when the elephant warned them.”

Mabasa said the biggest mistake tourists make was to get into an animal’s safe zone to take a good photo.

“An elephant will attack if it sees you as a threat,” he said.

Mathole said De Klerk and Brooks had already returned to the UK.

Kruger Sightings said the group who had made the video of the attack wanted to remain anonymous and did not want to grant interviews.

The Kruger Park had three elephant attacks last year.

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