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To take a photo of a wild African elephant for a photograph, I do wonder what exactly is a safe distance, from either on foot or a vehicle? I know in Yellowstone National Park it is advisable and legally required to stay at least a hundred yards ( about 90 meters) away from a grizzly bear, plus I personally would recommend at least 200 yards when hiking in open country, or avoid the area altogether. My philosophy on this is that animals need their space, and they don't mind you if you stay in 'your' space. Intrude though, and it can be a problem. Basically, if they 'want' their photo taken, they will abide. Otherwise, I don't bother.

 

This unfortunate incident occurred in Zambia. It appears that a Belgian woman photographer with much experience around elephants, got within 25 meters, which agitated the elephant that subsequently charged, while a nearby Dutchman tried to rescue her and got trampled to death also. 

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/11/dutchman-trampled-to-death-by-elephant-on-zambian-holiday/

 

Any thoughts on what's a reasonably safe distance to photograph an elephant? 

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Depends if you are on foot or in a vehicle. Also depends on whether the elephant is female or a bull, and whether the bull is in must (and you need to know how to spot if it is). You really need to take local advice from a guide. Got pretty close to an elephant in must but the driver of our vehicle was ready to roll if he got agitated.

 

close-up-of-male-african-bull-elephant-l

Edited by Sally
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When I was in Kenya and Tanzania,  tourists were not allowed to get out of the Land Cruisers.  Your driver could be fined if he lets you leave.

 

When I Amboselli Park, which is an elephant preserve, our vehicle stopped along with others as their were about 30 elephants scattered about.  Right in front of us was a vehicle from the Park itself and it had a flat tire.  Many offered to help her change her tire, but she said, no, she would simply have to wait until the elephants left before it would be safe for her to leave the vehicle and change it.

 

There are many other critters to worry about besides the elphants.  Most ignore the vehicles as they are used to them, but I sure wouldn't get out and wander on my own.

 

This guy was almost right next to the vehicle in Tanzania:

 

young-african-elephant-eating-grass-with

 

I love elephants.  Maybe Paulette will be by.  she has made a number to trips to various parts of Africa and has some amazing images.

 

Jill

 

 

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3 hours ago, Sally said:

Depends I you are on foot or in a vehicle. Also depends on whether the elephant is female or a bull, and whether the bull is in must (and you need to know how to spot if it is). You really need to take local advice from a guide. Got pretty close to an elephant in must but the driver of our vehicle was ready to roll if he got agitated.

 

 

 

Sadly, during my recent trip to Borneo, I heard the story of a young woman having been trampled to death by a pygmy elephant. 'Pygmy' is all relative, they're still a couple of tons.

 

She was in an open truck with a friend and a guide at night time. They spotted a lone bull in must. They got off the truck. The guide instructed them to keep a safe distance. One of the women fought with him, saying they had seen no animal the day before and she would do what she liked. The final straw was, again contrary to the guide's instructions, she took a photo using flash. The elephant turned round and charged. The guide tried to direct the elephant's anger towards him but it didn't work. The elephant had seen the camera. The woman was speared through the heart, dragged through the rainforest, then trampled.  Guess who got in trouble? The Lodge and the guide of course. 

 

We saw the very same elephant at night when I went there, just by the side of the road. We stayed in the truck and it calmly moved away minding its own business.

 

Do listen to guides, they know their stuff and they're the ones who get into trouble if anything happens.

 

Gen

 

 

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You really do need to stay well clear of guys like this:

a-young-bull-elephant-in-musth-approache

He was the other side of the waterhole, but the guide was still very nervous - even more so the next day when he appeared alongside the track we were on. Easy to spot from the fluid leaking from the temporal glands, and the constant dribble of urine a bull elephant in musth (sic, correct spelling) is really not to be trifled with!

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Yes, stay in vehicle. Yes, listen to guide. Be ready to sit down and hold on if a quick exit is necessary. They are fabulous animals and will sometimes come near. Best if they come to you -- not vice versa. The first rule in wildlife photography is "Don't stress the animal". I got to ride an elephant in India. Well..... sat on a platform on top of a very tame elephant.

 

Paulette

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6 hours ago, Sally said:

Depends I you are on foot or in a vehicle. Also depends on whether the elephant is female or a bull, and whether the bull is in must (and you need to know how to spot if it is). You really need to take local advice from a guide. Got pretty close to an elephant in must but the driver of our vehicle was ready to roll if he got agitated.

 

close-up-of-male-african-bull-elephant-l

 

This is good advice, but really, how does one know if the elephant in question is having a good day or a bad day?  (I'm not trying to be funny).  Wild animals are not always healthy and may appear normal until it's too late. 

 

My wife says I'm way to conservative (cautious) about many things but on this even she agrees.  Stay with the guide and listen to his or her wise advice.

 

The problem is that in most cases you are correct in your thinking you're safe right up to the point you're not.  This image, BTW, is superb!! 

 

Rick

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2 hours ago, Russell said:

You really do need to stay well clear of guys like this:

a-young-bull-elephant-in-musth-approache

He was the other side of the waterhole, but the guide was still very nervous - even more so the next day when he appeared alongside the track we were on. Easy to spot from the fluid leaking from the temporal glands, and the constant dribble of urine a bull elephant in musth (sic, correct spelling) is really not to be trifled with!

Yep, same in my photo. Another sign apparently is that they hold their trunk over a tusk

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7 minutes ago, Rick Lewis said:

 

This is good advice, but really, how does one know if the elephant in question is having a good day or a bad day?  (I'm not trying to be funny).  Wild animals are not always healthy and may appear normal until it's too late. 

 

My wife says I'm way to conservative (cautious) about many things but on this even she agrees.  Stay with the guide and listen to his or her wise advice.

 

The problem is that in most cases you are correct in your thinking you're safe right up to the point you're not.  This image, BTW, is superb!! 

 

Rick

Thank you. Not sold yet, however!

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2 hours ago, Russell said:

an-bull-elephant-rests-its-trunk-on-its-

Could be ...

 

Exactly so. If you haven’t already got the tag ‘elephant in must’ you can now add it.

This is the same elephant as above doing it, too. Another sign I remembered is that they dribble pee (edit: see that’s already been mentioned) Perhaps we shouldn’t have photos of elephants doing that ;)

 

african-bull-elephant-in-must-indicated-

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A really good rule of thumb is If you know what you are doing and understand their behaviour tread with caution. If you don't then steer well clear. They are really temperamental and though they may seem relaxed, all it takes is for a juvenile to initiate a mini charge (they do this often and to almost anything they are unsure of or just for the hell of it) to get the mother to launch into a full scale charge without warning. I am more wary of the females with calves than the bulls. Luckily I live in easy access to them and they remain my best animal. I do have some images in my port if you interested. Best advice leave them alone.

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On 22/02/2018 at 13:36, Blind Pig said:

As a side note it is always helpful if you are the fastest runner in your group. Just kidding.

 

Always go with a group which has an unfit/overweight person, they will always be last.

 

Allan

 

 

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 I just found this page- https://youngrory.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/how-can-you-tell-if-an-elephant-is-in-musth/

I knew about the seeping but not the others.

I was told that they carry their trunk when they are tired but who knows?

As always, never use a flash and never stand up in an open topped vehicle. We had a bloke also from Australia who got so excited when he saw his first elephant that it charged the truck when he stood up. The guide grabbed him and dragged him back down into the seat

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On ‎22‎/‎02‎/‎2018 at 23:06, Blind Pig said:

As a side note it is always helpful if you are the fastest runner in your group. Just kidding.

You only need to slightly faster than the slowest person in the group :)

 

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I learned to stand up slowly the first time I scared away a group of gazelles that were right by the road. Made everybody mad at me.

 

Paulette

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