Arnold Schwarzenegger made news recently while on a safari in South Africa when his open air jeep was charged by an elephant.  What caused the elephant to charge is not known.  We’re glad no one was hurt though, including the elephant! Hearing of this close call, we immediately consulted our travel experts to get some sage advice from them about how to behave when encountering animals such as elephants in the wild.

Here are eight lucky pieces of jungle wisdom for all you safari-going- cartoon/movie buffs (get it?):

  1. Just because the elephant is an iconic symbol of a certain political party that you may hold near and dear, that’s no reason to try to talk politics with them.  Elephants are apolitical animals and talking politics is more likely to aggravate them than to endear you to them.  Besides, elephants, with their long memories, have never forgotten the humiliation of Thomas Nast’s 1874 political cartoon in which an elephant was depicted running from a donkey.

2. Don’t wear “Terminator” on your sleeve as it scares the animals, especially elephants.  While it may be tempting to strike a pose as the Terminator while in the wild, such an action could cause the animals to become aggressive.

3. Don’t even whisper at any time in Africa the movie name “Predator.”  Unfortunately, much wildlife in Africa is endangered, and the animals live in fear of the very word “predator.”  Many, especially elephants, tend to be a little less hospitable when they hear it.

4. Even if your memory is so good that you win at the game of “Jeopardy” all the time, don’t boast about your “Total Recall” ability in the presence of elephants. Elephants really do have elephantine memories, and they don’t take kindly to humans treading on their turf bragging about such things.

5. Don’t let on that you have “Running Man” abilities, whether they be in the political realm or in Hollywood.  Any elephant who even senses that you’re a bit of a running man will want to charge at you just to see you run.

6. Never even pretend to be the “Last Action Hero” in the wild because elephants and other animals view this as a sign of weakness and may charge at you right off.

7. Jumping up and saying “Hi, I’m Conan the Barbarian” upon first meeting an elephant in the bush is never a good thing to do.  Surprised by the frankness of such an introduction, the elephant initially recoils, but then almost always springs into a general ruckus appropriate to the occasion.  Such introductions must always be made quietly and diplomatically, sometimes using third parties such as ostriches.

8. Always remember that while elephants and all of the rest of the animals out there love “Dr. Dolittle,” they’re mostly afraid of white wolves and could easily run amok at the sight of one.


We hope everyone takes these “safe safari tips” in the comic spirit in which they’re offered.  We wish all a great – and very safe – trip in South Africa.


Have you ever been on a safari?  If so, let us know about some of your animal encounters and give us some of your jungle wisdom in the comments section below.

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About The Author


Joseph Decibus writes for CheapOair and is also an avid traveler who occasionally writes about his trips. He looks forward to informing readers periodically about interesting places and events throughout the world.