How to Survive a Charging Elephant

Опубликовал Admin
4-07-2021, 16:10
If by a stroke of ill fortune you come face-to-face with an angry elephant, you'll need to know how to avoid being hurt. Fortunately, most elephant charges are just “mock” charges meant to frighten you but not harm you. If facing down a charging, angry elephant, your best bet is to shout, yell, and make as much noise as you can. With these directions in mind, you'll be well prepared to survive an elephant charge.

Determining If It's a Mock or Real Charge

  1. Recognize that if the elephant's ears are pinned back it's about to charge. If an elephant's ears are relaxed, it is probably making a mock charge. Ears that are fanned out are likewise indicative of a mock charge. If the elephant's ears are pinned back flat, it is likely that the charge is real.
    • Most charges made by elephants are mock charges. That is, the elephant is pretending to charge but is actually testing you out to see if you're aggressive or a non-threat.
  2. Look at the elephant's trunk to see if it's curled inward in attack position. During a genuine charge, an elephant will curl its trunk up and inward. If its trunk is hanging loosely down, on the other hand, the elephant is probably only making a mock charge.
    • Being able to recognize the difference between an elephant who is making a mock charge and an elephant who is about to trample you may save your life.
  3. See if the elephant is twitching its trunk or swinging one leg to and fro. These actions are known as “displacement activities.” They're physical signs that show an elephant's indecision regarding whether to charge or mock charge. If you see an elephant doing displacement activities, it's probably about to make a mock charge, not a real charge.
    • The more pronounced these displacement activities, the more likely the elephant is making a threatening show out of fear and has no intention to really charge.

Evading the Elephant during a Real Charge

  1. Stay downwind from the elephant at all times. This means that the wind should be blowing past the elephant towards you, not past you towards the elephant. When you're downwind, the elephant will find it difficult to smell you and seek you out (elephants have a keen sense of smell). If you can position yourself downwind, you might be able to avoid any further encounter.
    • Being downwind should prevent the elephant from making either a mock or a real charge.
  2. Run in a zig-zag pattern if the elephant makes a real charge. If an elephant makes a real charge, shouting loudly will not be enough to deter it. If you've noticed the signs of a real charge, start running. A head start, combined with a zig-zag running pattern, should keep you safe from the charge. A charging elephant can run much faster than you, but if you zig-zag, you might be able to evade it. Elephants find it difficult to change directions due to their bulky size.
    • If you do run, the intent should be to place as much distance between yourself and the elephant. Elephants that are scared, upset, or angered can run up to 35–40 km/h (22–25 mph), while the fastest human being clocks in at around 37 km/h (23 mph) for a short sprint.
  3. Find something to keep between you and the charging elephant. If the elephant makes a real charge, quickly look around to see if you can duck behind something larger than you that can act as a shield. For example, find a vehicle, a building, a pile of rubble, a large tree, etc. In some cases, getting inside a large, hollow tree might work.
    • If you do hide somewhere, be aware that you must be absolutely still and quiet, since elephants have acute hearing.
  4. Climb up a sturdy tree or rock face to escape the elephant's reach. Elephants can't climb, obviously. Provided you find a sturdy enough tree of good height, it might be enough to put space between you and the marauding elephant. Try to climb at least 10–15 feet (3.0–4.6 m) off the ground, so the elephant can't reach you with its tusks or trunk.
    • Keep in mind that the elephant might rip a small or dead tree down.
  5. Hop into a narrow ditch where the elephant can't reach you. If the elephant is making a real charge, you'll need to find a way to evade its feet and tusks. In some cases, people have evaded a charging elephant by dropping into a large ditch and staying low. The elephant may also lose interest in attacking you if you're out of its range of sight.
    • Be warned that if the ditch isn't wide or deep enough, the elephant may find its way around and start attacking you with its trunk.
  6. Throw a decoy object away from yourself to distract the elephant. If you're running and the elephant is drawing nearer, throw a jacket, hat, bag, or branch away from you. Try to toss the decoy at least 10 feet (3.0 m). This might serve as enough of a distraction for the elephant to attack it instead of you.
    • While it's attacking the decoy, run as far from the elephant as you can.
  7. Resort to making noise if the elephant isn't distracted by a decoy. Being noisy might be the only strategy you have left, so stand your ground and shout as loudly as you can. If you make enough noise, the elephant may consider you a potential threat and decide that engaging you in a fight might not be a safe move.
    • Try anything: roar like a lion or shout “no” over and over. If you're carrying a backpack, shake it to make noise. You can also shake small bushes or trees to create a rattling sound.

Standing Your Ground for a Mock Charge

  1. Stand still if the elephant is making a mock charge. Standing still in your tracks will show the elephant that you're non-threatening and will remove the animal's desire to chase you. Remaining where you're standing will show confidence and a lack of fear, which should make the elephant think twice about charging.
    • As you'd expect, it is very hard to stand still when an elephant is bearing down on you. You'll need to muster up courage and stand your ground.
  2. Do not show your back to the elephant during a mock charge. The elephant will see this behavior as fearful and submissive and will be inclined to chase after you and hunt you down. Elephants are good at evaluating body language, and showing your back will demonstrate that you're weak, afraid, and vulnerable.
    • Instead, try making yourself look big and confident. Raise your arms above your head and take a step forward toward the elephant.
  3. Yell and shout to drive the elephant off if it's making a mock charge. It's possible to shoo off the elephant by making loud noises if the elephant is at least 50 yards (46 m) away. Screaming and yelling is an effective strategy. Keep yelling for as long as it takes for the elephant to back down and leave the area. This option should be used only where you see indications of a mock charge.
    • Loudly and repetitively shouting "No!" or “Go away!” is good if you can't think of anything else to yell.


  • If you are with a guide, keeper or other responsible person, listen to what they say to do and obey!
  • If you are in an enclosed space with an elephant, such as at a zoo or wildlife park, be sure you know all of the safety protocols for such an activity. Stay near exit points at all times.
  • Once you're sure that the elephant is gone, provide first aid to anyone in your party who was hurt during the attack. If anyone was seriously injured, seek medical help. Let local park rangers, keepers, police, and other relevant parties know what has happened.
  • Try to stay calm if an elephant charges. While it's terrifying to have a large, wild beast bearing down on you, keeping a clear head may be what saves you.
  • In some cases, rangers or guides will shoot near (rather than at) a charging elephant to get it to turn around.
  • If you're near or inside a vehicle and you can maneuver it quickly, drive off. Be warned though, if the elephant is already close to the vehicle, it may charge the vehicle and you risk being tipped over and pounded.


  • If you are near a vehicle just press the horn and make noise. This will make the elephant to leave that spot.
  • Watch where you put your feet if you end up running from a charging elephant. Tripping can ruin your ability to escape, and the elephant may bear down on you.
  • It might not be wise to jump into water when trying to escape an elephant. Apart from the fact that the water might harbor other non-friendly wildlife, elephants are surprisingly good swimmers and it may decide to simply follow you.
  • Carrying weapons is no guarantee of safety against a charging elephant. The charge can occur so quickly that there isn't time to react with a weapon.
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