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elephant safari danger elephant kills us woman kenyaIn August 2013 a US Professor was killed by an elephant in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, while on a walking safari. In December 2013, a British tourist was almost killed when their car was turned over by an elephant in South Africa's Kruger National Park. In October 2009, a safari guide working with the BBC was charged at and killed by an elephant, while filming a children's show in southern Tanzania. And in September 2009, a British tourist narrowly escaped with his life when he was charged at by an elephant, upon arrival at his safari camp in Kenya. His leg was gored into quite a mess, but he's expected to make a full recovery. It does beg the question - is going on safari dangerous? And what's with these elephants?

Obviously the answer is, "yes, a safari can be dangerous". You're dealing with wildlife, it's unpredictable, that's part of the thrill of being on safari. If you take basic precautions, follow the guide, park and camp rules you should be fine. In fact tourists getting attacked by wildlife is quite rare, especially compared with the local population who have to live with the dangers every day. Farmers and pastoralists who live close to national parks and wildlife conservation areas are at much higher risk. Women for example, often have no choice but to wash cooking utensils and clothes in rivers where crocodiles and hippos live. And it's the hippo, not the elephant, that is responsible for most of Africa's fatalities by a wild animal.

The African elephant is larger and generally more aggressive than the smaller Asian elephant. There's no playing soccer or polo with an African elephant. And circuses are really out of the question. African Elephants charge when they feel threatened, they'll tend to be more aggressive in areas where there has been a lot of poaching. Elephants never forget. Guides and rangers can read elephants and will generally know whether one is about to charge for real, or whether it is mock charging. I've been mock charged several times and almost died from a heart attack, while my guide has merely chuckled. But in general, when respected, the African elephant will not harm you. It is in fact one of the most gentle and intelligent creatures on earth.

More About: Keeping Safe on Safari l Africa's Most Dangerous Animals l The "Big Five"

Elephant bull mock charging, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe - Getty Images/Steve Allen

January 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm
(1) Raza Visram says:

Anouk, if you look at these two locations – one being Mount Kenya National Park – Link:


& the second being the Selous Game Reserve – link: 


these parks are yet to have formal standards on walking safaris, guides, do’s and don’t, level experience, camp involvement etc.

Take for instance Zambia, home to Africa’s walking safaris in the purest sense, in the last 1 year I have only heard of one incident as such and even that in the most remote park in North Luangwa.

If you have the right experienced guides, training and standards and most of all communication, most of these deaths can be avoided. Kenya is just beginning to adopt FGASA standards now. Allowing a 1 year child with mother on a morning trek is just a no-no.

January 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm
(2) Travel Blogs says:

Well travelling in general can be dangerous when we put our trust in tour guides who know or might not know what they are doing.

January 8, 2010 at 12:58 am
(3) African Safari Vacations says:

A safari tour can be dangerous but it is part of the excitement.One has to be very careful not to wander alone in a jungle without any guide.Always be in a company of people(atleast 4 to 5) to avert any danger.But at the end of the day its FUN.

January 9, 2010 at 8:57 am
(4) Pete says:

Not to forget the danger to the animals too. Is your adrenaline-walk really worth the life of an animal if the ranger ends up having to shoot it to stop an attack? That rifle isn’t just decorative.

January 23, 2010 at 11:29 am
(5) Travel South Africa says:

Yes, going on Safari can be dangerous, but so can going on holiday anywhere. It is all a question of understanding where you are and taking the correct precautions. It is also a question of ensuring that you go with well trained safari guides who know and understand the bush and know what to do in a situation where you are threatened by the wildlife – wild being the operative word. These are not tamed animals people are coming to see. It is a balance that the safari guides have to ensure that we get to see the wildlife, but make sure that we don’t invade their home space too much that they feel threatened enough to attack. South African Game Rangers undergo vigerous training to ensure that they know and understand the bush and how to deal safely with showing guests the wildlife.

November 8, 2010 at 2:07 am
(6) wilson says:

we cant say traveling can be dangerous but its always fun and people have fun.what you need is only knowing the right direction not to Cris cross with the animals

June 5, 2012 at 6:41 am
(7) Yves from France says:

Going on holiday anywhere is not necessary dangerous. Going to Switzerland on a holiday is not nearly as dangerous as going on a safari is it? Though mountain climbing can be…

April 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm
(8) Jim says:

A friend’s daughter was criticlly hurt today and her friend killed when their jeep overturned on safari. Just an hour ago, listened to my friend speaking to her daughter in the hopsital via a nurse’s cell phone. Don’t even try to imagine that conversation. Yes, going on safari can be dangerous.

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