This is the heart-stopping moment when two safari guides held their nerve in front of a charging elephant – and bravely gave it the chance of life.
Many in their position would have taken the option of a panicked shot to save their own skins, but this pair gave the tusker the benefit of the doubt.
The enraged three-ton beast was bearing down on Devon Myers, 38, and Sean Carter, 37, at speed and ready to trample them both to death.
But the highly experienced off-trail guides shouted at the top of their voices and stood fast to try and convince the elephant to put on the brakes.
Their courage paid off as the rampaging elephant in the wilds of the Pafuri region of Kruger National Park, South Africa broke off the attack.
When the female elephant was 20 feet away, she finally swerved in a swirl of dust just in the very nick of time, avoiding being shot
Trumpeting loudly and throwing up a cloud of dust it was just yards away from Myers and Carter and their six guests taking cover beneath a tree.
Myers, who works at African-Born Safaris, which takes clients on private adventures off-the-beaten track in eight countries, said: ‘It was a very close call for sure.
‘If it had come a fraction of a second closer we would have had no choice.
‘There was a herd of female elephants and their young moving quickly as they were being followed by five bull elephants keen to try their luck on them.
‘We had picked a place to take a break from the sun in the shade of mahogany trees and it gave us a good view of what was happening all around us.’
Devon Myers, who works at African-Born Safaris, said the herd of female elephants and their young were moving quickly as they were being followed by five bull elephants
He added: ‘The elephant herd was down wind of us and would have smelt us and knew we were there so it was important to stay in cover and not get into the open.
‘A few decided to come and check us out but could not see us in the shade which is why we stood up and shouted so they knew where we were.
‘But the final female decided to charge and some say you can tell if it is a mock charge or a full charge depending on whether their ears are back or are out.
‘I am not so sure myself and I am sure some have paid the price for believing that to be the case and at the end of the day you just can’t take that chance.’
Myers and Carter watched the herd from a spot under a tree in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Suddenly, one of the elephants charged at them
Myers said that as it approached, they had no choice but to take aim with their guns, in order to protect the group
He said their fingers were on the triggers and they were shouting to try and divert her
Myers continued: ‘Our fingers had taken up the slack on the triggers and we were shouting to try and divert her and standing still but she just kept on coming and coming.
‘When she was 20 feet away which would have been our firing position for a brain shot she finally swerved in a swirl of dust just in the very nick of time.
‘We dedicate our lives to the conservation of animals and the wild but if we need to save our lives and those of others we’re not prepared to be martyrs.
‘Both of our fingers were on the triggers and had ready to fire and if it had come half a meter further then we would have had to have taken the shot.
‘We shouted and shouted and held our ground to show we were not running to try and break its charge and fortunately for us it worked out.’
Myers added that she just kept on coming and coming, but broke off at the last moment
The female fully-grown elephant cow was part of a large herd of females and calves moving quickly in the bush to avoid the attention of young bulls.
Myers, from Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province, said: ‘Some people do question why we are out in the wilderness and “intruding” in the territory of wild animals.
‘But that is not the view of the informed as homo-sapiens have been in the African wilderness for thousands of years before the safari industry arrived.
‘Elephants, buffalo, lions and zebra – in fact all animals – are all used to human beings living around them and they know exactly what we are all about.’
He added: ‘What we are doing out on these primitive trail walks is giving people a chance to reconnect with the wilderness in a natural but non-threatening way.
‘It is not a thrill-seeking activity, although spotting an elephant or lion while on foot will certainly raise the pulse, but by and large we all get on together.
‘By going off the roads used by safari vehicles we are also coming across vital intelligence of poacher activity, which we can feed back to game rangers.
‘I have been charged a number of times by elephants but fortunately have never had to pull the trigger but this was for sure a very close call indeed.
‘The elephant was about 30 years old and she went back to her herd and they carried on quickly moving through the bush ahead of five bulls in hot pursuit!’.
Myers said he dedicates his life to the conservation of animals and the wild, but he is also there to protect the group
The walking safaris are tailor-made for guests, but when on Primitive Trails there are no tents and visitors sleep under the stars and drink from rivers.
Myers said: ‘Your water comes from the streams the animals drink from and your food you carry and when you sleep you lay down and you sleep.’
A female fully-grown elephant can weigh up to 3.3 tons and stand 8 feet and 6 inches at the shoulder. It can run at up to 25mph, so that it would quickly catch a fleeing human.
The male elephants can weigh up to twice as much and grow to 10 feet 6 inches at the shoulder. Between them, the herbivores kill up to 500 people a year in the wild.
With an estimated 415,000 left, they are listed as endangered, mainly due to poaching. They live up to 70 years and are the largest living land animal on earth.
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