Prepare to hold your breath for a handful of pretty intense seconds. Because the words "close encounter with large elephant" fall seriously short of describing this scene: 

The nerve-racking roadside "trunk inspection" was posted by YouTuber Jay Cappell back in 2013. Filmed on a game drive somewhere within South Africa's Balule Nature Reserve, the clip begins innocently enough, with several elephants browsing the bush and camera shutters clicking away.

It's only when one of the animals starts approaching the safari vehicle that the group realises the encounter is about to get more personal than they'd like (cue a few furtive whispers of "oh sh*t!"). 

The man right up front whose steely calm in the face of several tons of tusked pachyderm is seriously impressive is the tracker, positioned at the helm to look for spoor and tracks during the drive. 

Agitated elephants usually provide several warning signals before they react aggressively (and those reactions can be car-crushingly serious). Luckily for the tourists here, the elephant appears relaxed and merely curious, and the group did the right thing by remaining quiet and calm those are the hallmarks of a smart strategy for dealing with close encounters of the elephant kind. (This field guide nails it.)

However, a potentially dangerous situation like this one could probably have been avoided altogether. While it's always tricky to gauge just how an encounter played out based only on a short video clip, it does appear that this group could have made an earlier retreat, before the herd had the opportunity to get so close. Rule number one when dealing with wild animals is to keep a respectful distance ... or face the consequences: 

Elephant Attack Related 2016 04 13


Top header image: Robin Cafolla, Flickr