This is Mr Crotchety Pants, he lives around Lower Sabie in Kruger National Parks and he does not like me one bit! When I say he doesn’t like me – it’s not like he’s taken a slight dislike , he REALLY does not like me – to the extent that he almost ran us off the road. Here’s how I lived to tell the tale…
It was a lovely afternoon – the sun was beginning to lower and the temperature had become very pleasant. We set out from camp for a game drive and decided to take a nearby loop road to enjoy the last few hours of the day. Barely a few km down the road we saw a HUGE bull elephant standing beside this tree. Due to the low vegetation height we saw him in plenty time and parked a very respectful distance from him to see if he’d walk on. I was the driver that afternoon and really did not want to scare the mother-in-law too much by driving too close (she was in the front passenger seat beside me).
As the elephant started to amble toward the road it became evident that we’d need to wait this out – as there was no way I was going to try and squeeze past him to continue our drive – nor was I too keen on getting any closer. So I popped the engine into neutral and we waited patiently. After about ten minutes we’d started to form quite a queue of traffic behind us and I was worried that, on this single track road, the other drivers might start getting very impatient (unfortunately not many people are that respectful of elephants and will happily drive on quickly by). It was at this exact moment that I recalled how closely packed the row of cars behind us was that the elephant took an immediate dislike to me. He swung to face us head on. Standing in the middle of the dirt track, ears spread wide he raised his trunk towards us. The sense of annoyance was intense. With a very meaningful and not well intentioned gait he started to stomp towards us – throwing out his right front leg to the side as he approached. It became very clear that this was a very unhappy ellie. I had no chose but to start the engine up – something that rattled him even more and he sped up, coming closer every second. My heart was racing and adrenaline was pumping through my body – I threw the car into reverse gear but had no where to go as the car behind was right up my jacksie. I started to gesticulate to the driver behind – but he seemed oblivious – it was only when he saw the elephant through our front window that he realised that hulk of grey was not bad weather in the sky, but a very angry bull. Regardless, I decided that I could not afford to wait any longer – I was petrified. I started to reverse, figuring that the worst that could happen is that I forcefully push the guy behind me back and have a dented rear-end for the pleasure. Thankfully the driver behind got the message – and he too started to reverse into the guy behind him – it felt like the slowest chain reaction in the world.
After reversing a good distance back we thought that might placate the elephant. It didn’t. We had a glorious couple of minutes to settle our beating hearts before the whole scenario repeated itself… three more time! I desperately wanted to do a three point turn – but the road was so narrow there that I could not afford the time to turn – in seconds he’d be bearing down upon us again. It’s on this day that I became very accomplished at reversing!
After what felt like a very long time, and many grey hairs later, I was afforded a few minutes to turn the car around on a slightly wider piece of road – this allowed all the cars behind to get a good view of Mr Crotchety Pants and caused an immediate reaction – three cars turned on their heels and sped off, dust billowing behind them. I wasted no time in following suit. Mr Crotchety Pants became the undisputed king of the road!