WATCH | Safari guide saves newlywed tourists from charging elephant

11 April 2018 - 09:35 By Naledi Shange

A New Zealand couple came face-to-face with an elephant while on a foot safari in the Kruger National Park in Limpopo on April 9, 2018.

A New Zealand couple are in awe of two tourist guides who saved them after they came face-to-face with an elephant while on a foot safari in the Kruger National Park in Limpopo.

Brett Larson‚ who had been on honeymoon with his new wife‚ said the bull charged at them not once‚ not twice‚ but three times.

The incident happened on Monday.

“We were walking in the forest and we came past some trees and approached a hill. The hill was on our right hand side about 100 metres away and there on the hill‚ there was the elephant‚” Larson said.

“We were told to be very calm and still and we stood there for about two minutes with the elephant just looking at us. It was getting agitated and it suddenly charged at us.”

In a situation like that‚ one undoubtedly gets into fight-or-flight mode but Larson said their tour guides told them not to budge.

“The one guide immediately walked about two metres towards the elephant and he yelled something in Afrikaans at the elephant. It was like something from a movie. The elephant stopped and stomped its feet. The elephant was going crazy and the guide was trying to calm it down‚” he said.

The guide who had confronted the elephant was the more experienced of the two. The other had just qualified and was still on training‚ Larson said.

The experienced guide told his colleague to take refuge behind a tree with the couple. The bull charged a second time. It stomped the ground‚ throwing dirt into the air and trumpeting loudly. The guide remained resolute.

The elephant eventually retreated but when it got about 20 metres away‚ it came back for them again.

“We were extremely terrified but the guides were extremely calm‚” said Larson‚ who said the third confrontation was less aggressive.

His wife managed to get the last charge on camera.

Larson said they had an interesting walk back to the lodge after hugging‚ shaking hands and high-fiving each other following their brush with death and they made jokes about the encounter. He and his wife were still in disbelief.

“I have shown the video to a few people and none of them can believe it. I have watched Discovery [Channel] but I have never seen anything like this before. For a guide not to hesitate to confront the elephant like that … In the first charge‚ the elephant skidded right in front of him‚” Larson said.

“It was exceptional.”

Larson said they had survived the ordeal simply because of the bravery and professionalism of the guides‚ who‚ despite the fact that they were armed‚ were not trigger-happy.

So‚ would the Larsons consider going on safari on foot again?

“Probably‚ as long as it’s with an experienced guide‚” Larson said.