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Thread: Elephant behaviour before charge

  1. #1
    Join Date
    24-11-08
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    This Asiatic elephant image was captured in bandipur tiger reserve. Please mark this behaviour carefully. People may think that the elephant is peacefully standing without making a noise and has raised its foot to scratch itself or something like that. However, this is the sign of an imminent charge. When ever it raises its foreleg and stands in this pose, it is preparing to charge. Soon after this image was taken it charged at us. I have seen this behaviour many times and have captured still images as well as filmed it.

    I had first read about this behaviour in my child hood days (Shri Gadadhar Ray in his book Danta Hatira pratihinsha in oriya). Then later on observed this several times. People trekking may find it very useful as you can't outrun an elephant.

    Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, ISO 800, 1/250, EV: +1/3, f6.3, full frame image.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi
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  2. #2
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    You are absolutely right Sabya.This is a warning signal we should take seriously.

    But look at this picture.This is from Muthanga WLS.We were coming from Bandipur and heading towards Kalpetta and saw this elephant.I stopped my car and started taking pictures sitting inside the car.

    But as is often the case passers by also stopped their vehicles.Many were on two wheelers and started photographing the animal with their mobiles.

    I never stopped my engine becuse the elephant was not very comfortable with the presence of humans so close.But to my astonishment two bikes were parked right in front of my car and the riders started moving more closer towards the elephant!

    The elephant scrathed its legs and I was expecting a charge.

    There was even a middle aged man who was contemplating to go to the other side of the elephant to take pictures with his mobile!

    But fortunately he decided against his instinct.And fortunately for all of us the animal moved inside the forest and disappeared.It was not alone and we could see a few more elephants a little further away from this one.

    Nobody understood the danger of a charging elephant and was carefree.

    Regards
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  3. #3
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    A couple of days back I got the book Among the Elephants - Iain & Oria Douglas-Hamilton. He was the first to do systematic research on elephants in Africa.

    I found that he has also mentioned this behaviour in this book.

    Among the Elephants – Iain & Oria Douglas-Hamilton
    Page 68, 4th para
    "Another distinctinct pattern of behaviour with practical as well as theoretical interest was the twiddling of the trunk, the swinging of one of the front legs to and fro, and rocking from side to side which I saw when an elephant appeared to be deciding between attack an retreat. These were typical ‘displacement activities’. In elephants they were a great help to me in predicting their behaviour. The more marked these activities the less likely the elephant was to charge. Very often the most impressive threat displays emanated from the most frightened elephants which were unlikely to make a serious attack.

    Niko was particularly interested in the differences in character between individual elephants where this led to their behaviour becoming predictable. As we passed one matriarch named Inkosikaas, with an upswept tusk like a sabre, she shook her head in mild annoyance. I stopped the car and told him to watch these elephants, because within about five minutes they would charge. Inkosiakaas fiddled with her trunk, then turned to the other cows on either side of her and clashed tusks with them in turn, putting her trunk in their mouths on e after the other. This seemed to reassure her and almost exactly five minutes later she delivered a beautifully impressive threat charge. This was her own predictable quirk, unique among the elephants of Manyara: the tendency for delayed action aggressive displays."

    The learning apart from the elephant behaviour is that, we have failed to tap the knowledge. I first read this from a hunters book written in Oriya. I read it in the late 70's and saw the behaviour in 90's. This hunter had experienced this behaviour in the 1930's and 1940s. Douglas-Hamilton recorded this behaviour in African elephants in the late 1960's and early 1970s. Still this is not known to people. I hope we can collect all such knowledge and bring it infront of the world.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

  4. #4
    Join Date
    21-09-10
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    Default Elephant behaviour

    Dear Sabyasachi,

    I totally agree with you. I wish to share my experience in Kabini back waters. A year ago, was driving in open jeep with my brother, nephew and forest guard and RFO when we got into a gorge where the air was totally still...... abruptly the guard, standing next to me, asked us to stop... then in a distance just saw the trunk of an elephant which was high up and moving parallel to us and continued to move ahead of us and when the thicket cleared, we saw this female elephant standing with its left leg lifted and looked relaxing, however when we came right in front, it charged without warning and came so close that i felt it could have picked one of us from its trunk if it decided, but the guard lifted his rifle and as if to understand, she walked away majestically and we didnt wait for it to return... the second shot shows the charging shot the next shot was totally blurr..maybe coz i was shaking :-)

    Regards, Ram.
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  5. #5
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    Default Charging Elephant

    Hi
    The charging elephant.
    Regards,
    Ram.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramprasad Macharlu View Post
    Hi
    The charging elephant.
    Regards,
    Ram.
    All these are shot with a Canon SLR EOS 3000V with 90-300 Lens.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for sharing your experince. The images display the behaviour nicely. It surely is a experience which you wont forget. Keep posting.
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

  8. #8
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    Ram,
    Thanks for sharing. It becomes difficult for people to understand what is going to unfold, as the elephant remains still. People mistake it for an elephant standing peacefully and hence lose precious seconds which can often be the difference between life and death if you are on foot. It might be pertinent to mention that a journalist couple of years back moved close to a few elephants engaged in crop raiding. The journalist wanted a full frame image with his lens (probably wideangle or intermediate lens) and paid the price with his life.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

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