We had heard reports of elephants at South Luangwa National Park campsites that break into cars to steal food, so I was ready to transfer all my fruit and veges into the camp’s storage. But when we arrived we were advised not to keep ANY food in our cars or tents as one particular elephant not only eats fruit and veges, but also bread, biscuits, chocolate, milk …anything.
I took the advice and moved garbage bags of food to the elephant proof storage.
In the evenings I made sure we had dinner early so everything was packed away by night.
On our first evening, the elephant had already visited the other side of the campground. He destroyed a tent and bent the door of a car, there might have been food inside them.
About 7pm the guard came to tell us the elephant was coming our way. We closed up our car and went to watch. There were 3 elephants browsing on trees and slowly making their way towards our camping area and us. Each time they got closer, we backed away to a safer distance and kept watching.
The naughty elephant walked over to a car, stood there and examined it, sniffing with his trunk – nothing. He walked over to check the next car – nothing. He then broke into the garbage bin, and examined a bag of rubbish I had disposed of, leaving slobber all over it.
Next was our car…. we held our breath. He stood there and ran his trunk across our roof tent window, then along the windows of the car – Nothing. Phew, he moved on to check a few other bins and to find snacks around the gardens of the campground.
We watched and kept retreating to safer areas of the grounds each time he moved closer. At one point Frankie found himself in the restaurant kitchen, he thought “maybe this is not a such a good place”, so ran back out to find an alternative shelter.
In the meantime, the other elephants were well behaved, browsing on bushes, and then moved onto the next campground. The naughty elephant made his way out too.
Later that night, Frankie woke me about 10:15pm when he heard the elephants again. This time 5 had come back walking around the grounds. We spied on them and went back to sleep with a smile after they walked right by our tent.
Next night around 7pm, the peace was broken by the guy next to us banging his pots. I looked across and there was the elephant! He was right there in their camp!! We jumped up and closed our car doors.
The elephant had come up the river bank, into their site. They were eating dinner, but it went for the open doors of their car. He put his trunk in the door and swept a load of their gear out. The guy kept shouting elephant!! elephant!! The elephant got angry and charged him. He ran behind the tree, it chased him around the tree. It was so fast!! so fast!! He fell but managed to escape (where were the guards?). Someone came out cracking a whip and drove him away, back into the bush.
Third night, the elephant visited again about 7pm. It was exciting but nerve wracking as we watched him examine each car in our area again. He found nothing thank goodness, however earlier that evening he was over the other side of the campground and did some damage to an Overlander Bus.
Our last night, and we were ready as usual, but he did not come, however we did get a bonus hippo grazing around the grounds and he walked past our tent at 2am.
We are very relieved that our car/home did not get damaged, but we have met other travellers with minor damage to their vehicle, trailer from the South Luangwa Elephant.
Here the elephant has just finished sniffing our roof tent and car. He looked over at the light we were shining on him and came walking towards us. We scattered.