Try to limit the number of vehicles at an elephant sighting at any specific time to three.

Always asses the elephants status and direction of movement when first spoting them. Do not block their way, cut off their escape route or encircle them.

Most importantly always keep an absolute minimum distance of 50m or more from the elephant. Elephants, like humans, are sometimes unpredictable and allowing an elephant to get too close to a vehicle, not only directly endangers the lives of the people in the vehicle, but also indirectly endangers the life of the elephant. The 50m distance is only a guide because like elephants like humans are subject to mood swings with good and bad days and therefore this distance should always be a minimum

If you should accidentally find yourself amongst a herd of elephants all passengers in the vehicle must keep as still and quiet as possible. The driver must then look for the first chance to slowly move away to a safe viewing distance.

Watch out for the following signs that may indicate that an elephant is disturbed, irritated, threatened or distressed:

  • Secretions, resembling sweat, from the temporal glands, which are located between the ear and the eye on each side of the head.
  • Vocalisations including trumpeting, screaming, growling (a sound louder and more pronounced than a normal rumble) and roaring.
  • Group spacing. The group is clustered together and individuals are all less than 15m from each other and the adults are mostly facing outward with calves in the middle of a protective circle.
  • Group mobility. The group or particular individual is moving around a lot and / or moving away from the disturbances present, and / or increasing speed of movement, and / or changing direction of movement frequently.
  • Visibility. The animals are hiding in thickets at low visibility for long periods of time and are keeping at a distance of +/- 75m and more from roads.

Behavioural response towards vehicles and other disturbances:

Disturbed behaviour:

  • Front foot swinging but not directed towards vehicle
  • Breaking vegetation without eating it
  • Coiling, uncoiling and twitching of trunk
  • Touching temporal gland or eye with trunk
  • Head shake not directed at vehicle
  • Abrupt termination of current action while listening (usually by the entire group)
  • Smelling towards vehicle with trunk

Threatened behaviour:

  • Turning towards vehicle with ears spread
  • Throwing objects towards vehicle
  • Standing tall (head raised high, elephant peering over tusks, ears cocked and trunk hanging at acute angle)
  • Head shake or jerk towards vehicle
  • Forward trunk swish
  • Charge towards vehicle
  • Foot swung towards vehicle
  • Threat display (Bending down with front of body onto knees and pushing head towards ground)

Distressed behaviour:

  • Tail held straight up
  • Ears tilted up and back
  • Running away from vehicle with ears laid flat against shoulders

Never get out of the vehicle in the presence of elephants!

For the safety of all concerned it is requested that you report anyone you see who fails to adhere to the regulations.

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