There are creatures of all sizes living in Africa, including the largest mammal on land: the elephant. These gentle giants roam thousands of miles in their herds as they search for food and a way to survive. Surely not a lot could take down an elephant? Although this might seem the case, that doesn’t stop these creatures from looking out for one another. In fact, they have some of the strongest emotions of any animals other than us humans thanks to their incredible ability to feel happiness, love, and even rage. So when one man encountered a furious elephant, he wasn’t left with many options. Plus, he was entirely unarmed. He was going to have to think on his feet if he wanted to make it out the other side…
The eye of danger
If there is one animal that stands out in the plains of Africa, it is the mighty elephant. After all, they are the largest animal on Earth. As if that wasn’t enough, these animals love to live in massive herds. These can be anything from eight elephants all the way up to a herd of 100 at a time – it’s quite the sight! It is thought that male African elephants like to live alone, but these great beasts still enjoy the company of others as they learn their place in the herd; the females are usually the ones to take the alpha roles. However, when one man came face to face with a lone elephant, no one knew how it was going to turn out.
Learning their place in the world
It’s not hard to see how African elephants take home the prize for being the largest animal in the world. After all, these incredible animals can weigh over six and a half tons! As if that wasn’t enough, African elephants can also stand at 10 feet tall. This makes them quite the force to be reckoned with, especially when they are in the wild. The males tend to leave the herds when they are teenagers as they search for a new herd to start their family, while the females will stay together and raise the next generation of youngsters as a group. However, the males’ loner behavior can make them quite hormonal.
A life in the African bush
Alan McSmith has led an incredible life. Over the years, this conservationist and public speaker has gathered 30 years of hands-on experience thanks to his time in the bush. Some of the many places Alan has worked include Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia just to name a few. Plus, he has been living all across Africa for a quarter of a century. All his time in the outdoors means Alan has learned just about all there is to know about the continent and its wildlife.
Getting in touch with nature
Alan has one goal in mind – he wants to test the limits of people’s minds. Plus, he has a special way of doing this. Alan enjoys taking groups into the land he gets to call home through his Meaningful Encounters tours. Here, people can get back in touch with nature as well as see all the incredible wildlife that live in the African bush. These tours have been known to attract thousands of people from all corners of the Earth.
A passion for his profession
Not only does Alan get to help the lives of others, but he got to turn his passion into a profession by experiencing all the wildlife Africa has to offer. As well as learning about the creatures, Alan has also gained plenty of hands-on skills that help him to survive just about any situation he might encounter in the African bush. However, he never expected to come face to face with the largest creature on land. This was a situation that would quickly become out of his control.
The depths of the jungle
When thinking of Africa, it might be easy to imagine miles and miles of rolling deserts. However, did you know that 2.2 million square miles of the continent is covered in rainforests and jungles? Here, there are more than 8,000 plants that have helped form the basis of many of our modern medicines. Plus, the forests are teamed with several animals that might not be found elsewhere in Africa. Monkeys, parrots, and even elephants call this unique land “home.”
Danger around every corner
Although Africa is a beautiful continent, there are still several dangers that lurk around every corner. Lions are thought to end around 250 lives a year. Whether or not this number is higher or lower than you might have guessed, it goes without saying that they are extremely dangerous. They aren’t called the kings of the jungle for nothing after all. But they aren’t the other dangerous creatures out in the wild, as we’ll soon discuss…
Other wildlife dangers
There are still several animals to keep an eye out for other than lions, of course. Crocodiles are believed to be responsible for around 1,000 deaths a year, while hippos can cause up to 2,900. However, there is one animal that manages to end the lives of nearly 500 people a year. The elephant. This giant grey mammoth of an animal is one of the strongest animals around, and it goes without saying that you would never dare to cross it.
With this in mind, it may boggle your mind when you consider what Alan McSmith did. We’ve all heard about human daredevils in wildlife culture, and it never ceases to amaze us how brave these people really are. Of course, not everyone would consider it “bravery” what they are doing. Some may have another word for it, which we won’t mention here. Nevertheless, Alan’s story is still pretty astonishing when you consider how dangerous elephants are.
Typical jungle day
For Alan McSmith, it was just another day in the African jungle. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and it looked as though they were set for a pleasant walk through nature. Alan was using the opportunity to take his camera crew along to film everything. Doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a feature film you might see on the big screen in Hollywood? And if it was, how do you see this movie ending?
A strange shadow in the distance
As they ventured deeper into the jungle, out of the corner of their eye, they noticed something start to move. The shadow was growing bigger and bigger. Suddenly, they realized they had no way to defend themselves. Once it became clear to them what they were looking at, they became pretty shocked. They had gotten themselves into a mess they hadn’t anticipated, and they frantically wondered what they should do, fearing for their dear lives.
Turning to their leader
The shadow got closer and closer until they were able to make out what it was. An elephant was hiding amongst the trees. How had they missed such a giant creature? Everyone began to look to Alan to find out what to do. After all, he was the expert in these things, and they need him in this crucial moment. In times of fear, sometimes a group of people will turn to the one that they consider their leader, and Alan was that man in this scenario.
However, the African survivalist was taken entirely by surprise. Never did he expect to see one of these great beasts wandering through the trees. What could the elephant possibly want? All they knew was it didn’t look happy to see visitors. It’s one thing to come face to face with an animal as formidable as a great elephant. It’s another when the elephant sees you too, and has angry bone to pick with you as well.
Why was the elephant there?
Many parts of Africa are protected by wildlife preserves to help protect the animals from illegal poaching or hunters. It was unusual to see an elephant wander outside the safety of this protection. Maybe this one had got lost from its home? It’s important to note that wildlife animals generally aren’t around those areas, because it may given these wanderers the benefit of the doubt for not being so negligent in an area so full of danger.
Could they be alone?
That said, once they saw one elephant, they wondered whether or not there was another elephant around as well. Perhaps there could be the rest of the herd hiding in the trees? They may have been facing an intimidating elephant, but they also had the foresight to consider where this elephant was coming from. It wouldn’t be enough to escape from one of them, only to be defeated by the elephant’s friends waiting in the trees.
A scary sight
By this point, the elephant they were facing had got itself into a fit of rage. Now, it looked as though Alan and the team were about to be on the receiving end of its mood. All thoughts of other elephants were now out the window, because these travelers needed to figure out how to fight this elephant, and fast! One can only imagine how much of a scary sight is was for these people – and ask yourself, what would you do?
Getting a closer look
The crew continued to search and realized the elephant was all alone. Only, now they were about to get a closer look than they ever thought possible. The closer they got to the elephant, the more they realized that they were entering a potential world of pain. And yet… they couldn’t help but feel curious. That was, until the elephant flapped its ears, took a step back, and suddenly began to charge straight at Alan!
As we said, the elephant started quickly charging at Alan, and they needed to get out the way – and quick! However, they had no time to decide on a plan. The elephant was picking up the pace, and it was almost upon them. Alan had no choice but to think on his feet. This is the type of decision making that exists primarily in the subconscious. What Alan did next was a result of past training, and his overall experience with wildlife animals.
What Alan did
You may be a little shocked to find out what Alan did next. He didn’t run, or kick or scream – he knew there was nothing to do but stand his ground. After all, he would never be able to outrun the great beast, especially not now it had built up so much speed. Alan knew he was unarmed and no one had anything that would help him defend off the creature. How amazing is that? This shows a sign of bravery, and wait till you hear what happened next.
However, even though Alan had decided on the flash to stand his ground, he knew that he needed something up his sleeve. And it turns out that he actually had something up his sleeve! Right then, he remembered that he had been carrying a stick. It was Alan’s only hope. He knew the only way he stood a chance at making it out alive was to become more dominant than the elephant. It was a risky move.
Although the elephant was surprised by Alan’s response, it still continued with its charge. Alan was hopeful that the stick that he had whooped out of nowhere would scare the elephant off slightly, but he was sadly mistaken. Surely there was no way Alan would be able to get out of the way now? His only hope was that the elephant would stop charging before it was too late. The ball was pretty much in the elephant’s court at this point.
A close call
As the animal got closer and closer, it realized Alan wasn’t going to get out of the way. It tried to ground to a halt but ended up skidding along the ground just inches before the pair collided. Now how about that? It seems that the elephant had been bluffing the whole time! Perhaps this is a common theme in the animal kingdom. The elephant charged at Alan just to show dominance, but it seems that when Alan stood his ground, the elephant didn’t actually want to hurt him.
Was the battle over?
At this point, the elephant and Alan were kind of just sizing each other up, to try and see what cards the other was willing to play. The elephant stood with its ears spread out to try and make itself look as large as possible. Then, it turned and began to walk away. Once that happened, it seemed that the battle may have been over. Of course, that’s what they thought at first, but it turned out that they were all sorely mistaken.
Ready for round two
In fact, the elephant wasn’t leaving at all… he was heading back into the jungle to get a better run up at Alan! The African expert might not be so lucky after another charge. It was almost as if he was reliving the entire experience again. If the elephant didn’t trample him the first time, would he make a different decision the second time? The gears in Alan’s mind were already whirring, as he tried to predict the elephant’s next move.
Fearful crew members
As if that wasn’t enough, every member of the crew began to fear for their lives. That’s right, you may have forgotten that Alan was with an entire crew at this time, but they were a big part of this entire experience. In fact, it was thanks to the crew that we have footage of this entire event! It must’ve been especially difficult to document a momentous occurrence when you’re fearing for your life, don’t you think?
Looking for a reason
What could the elephant want with the group? Alan and his team had been walking through the jungle minding their own business and were now on the receiving end of a full-blown assault. At this point, it looked as though the elephant’s only goal was to hurt Alan, or at the very least, scare him away. Alan just hoped the animal would realize the group was no threat before it was too late. Someone could easily get hurt. They could even lose their life.
There was only one thing to do: Alan had to be more dominant than he was before. At this point, it was the only way he would get the elephant to leave the group alone. Rather than standing his ground, Alan began to wave the stick above his head as high as he could. This is how it’s done in the animal kingdom. You must assert your dominance, or get beaten in the process. Alan was obviously scared out of his mind, but the elephant didn’t need to know that.
The next charge
The elephant was now charging right back at him again. Would his plan work? Alan just needed to be taller than the elephant. This wasn’t going to be an easy plan to execute. After all, we’re talking about one of the biggest animals in the wildlife kingdom! Imagine if this were you in Alan’s position. An elephant is now charging at you a second time – would you have done the same? Or would you have fled the scene?
Leap of faith
Once again, the elephant skidded to a stop right before crashing into Alan. It was then that this African expert took a huge leap of faith; he stepped closer to the creature. He must have realized by this point that the elephant had two opportunities to attack him, but chose not to. It sparked a feeling in Alan that he might actually be able to connect with this elephant. It was a pretty bold move, but pretty amazing as well.
Eye to eye
Now, the pair were looking each other in the eye. Alan was now talking a language the elephant would understand. He was being dominant. Everyone hoped his plan would be enough to make the elephant leave. If not, this could all end in disaster. It is perhaps this moment that enables us to see quite how masterful of a wildlife expert Alan is. He had now evaded two charges from the elephant, and now was communicating with the elephant on another level.
Hoping for a miracle
You could almost hear the heartbeats of everyone in the crew as they stood back and watched the events unfold in front of their very eyes. This was the animal kingdom; there could only be one winner. Who would make it out victorious? You can also imagine how hard it must have been for the crew members to just stand there, and not do anything to help their fearless leader in the predicament that he was currently in.
Bye bye elephant
As quickly as the assault had started, it looked as though the elephant realized they were fighting a losing battle. Before they had a chance to hold their breath, the animal turned and walked back into the trees. This time, the results would show that it had finally gone for good. One can only imagine the level of relief that these adventurers felt when they were sure the elephant wasn’t coming back for a grand finale of round three!
Getting his story out
As soon as Alan got to safety, he watched the footage to see how all the events unfolded so quickly. He knew he couldn’t keep it to himself, so he uploaded the entire thing to YouTube. Of course, even though what he went through was pretty incredible, there were no guarantees that the story would get out. Then again… when it comes to social media in this day and age, people can’t help but get their hands on an extraordinary tale like this one.
Becoming an online sensation
It wasn’t long before the clip racked up over one million views, and people flooded to show their support for Alan and his bravery. Many commented how they were impressed by Alan standing his ground, while one former elephant keeper even noted how he did exactly the right thing. That being noted, standing your ground instead of running is a lot easier said than done, and that’s why what Alan did was truly exceptional beyond belief.
An important warning
Although Alan was thankful to make it out alive and wanted to share his experience with the world, he was worried about the effects it could have on other people. Alan has spent his life teaching people to respect nature. Now, he was concerned that the video could encourage others to take on a wild animal. The African expert even added that he would never have acted the way he did in the footage if there was another choice, and people should never try and copy his tactics.