Kids, don't try this at home ...

Experienced safari guide Blake Muil captured this edge-of-your-seat footage last month in Mana Pools in Zimbabwe's far north. Muil was sitting in a riverside camp with a group of guests when a curious elephant sauntered over to investigate. Concerned that any sudden movements might startle the hefty bull, Muil cautioned his guests to sit still and whipped out his phone to capture the moment. The resulting video shows the elephant towering just inches above Muil's head forcing the smiling guide to duck at one point to avoid getting clipped by a swinging tusk.

"I have been a professional safari guide in Africa for 27 years and this is a highlight of my career," Muil wrote on Facebook. "I am totally honoured to have shared this moment with this old elephant bull."

After a short time, the bull moved on, leaving Muil and his guests with long-lasting memories and some astonishing footage. Mana Pools has a reputation for delivering remarkable wildlife encounters like this, however, we wouldn't recommend actively seeking them. Like all wild animals, elephants can be dangerous and unpredictable. In a similar incident back in 2015, a "hangry" elephant swept a group of tourists from their chairs as it foraged for a meal (fortunately there were no severe injuries).

In the latest close-up encounter the pachyderm was probably just curious and moved in for a closer look. With several years experience as a guide, Muil likely sensed that there were no obvious signs of aggression from the bull and chose to sit still. An elephant encounter this intimate can easily end in tragedy, and it's always important to give these animals space. Elephants usually provide clear warning signals when they feel threatened: head-shaking, trumpeting, dust-throwing and ear-flapping are all strong indicators that an elephant wants you to back off. If you're in the way, it's best to make a swift exit.

Luckily for Muil and his guests this elephant encounter ended in smiles.

Top header image: Brittany H., Flickr