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Alan McSmith is a Man Who Will Stare Down a Charging Bull Elephant With a Stick

By Petr Knava | Videos | February 21, 2018 |

By Petr Knava | Videos | February 21, 2018 |


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What is the bravest thing you have ever done?

Alan McSmith is a wilderness guide, and if this video isn’t his answer to that question then I have a lot more questions for him:

Mr McSmith has taken the time to elaborate on this surreal and unbelievable encounter in the comments below the video on YouTube:

Dear all,

Thank you for taking the time to comment on my seminal elephant encounter video and it would be great to respond by sharing the story behind it.

The video, filmed on a wilderness trail, is a one-in-a-million encounter. It is authentic and the elephant is wild, not trained. Neither are there any AK47s, snipers or nuclear warheads behind me.

As a wilderness guide i strive to avoid confrontations with wild animals, and in 30 years of guiding, have never deliberately provoked one. The default reaction of wild animals, including big game, is to avoid encounters with humans.

However, the reality is that things do not always go according to the book.

Then what? As a guide, and have to deal with the scenario before you.

With all the hindsight in the world, would not have done anything differently. I did not get myself into a situation, i got myself and our trail party out of one. How evenly the bull walks away at the end, comfortable enough to turn his back on us, is a testament to this.

I would NEVER suggest that anyone tries this! If you are a guide then i urge you to use extreme caution whilst walking.

In the jungles of social media sensationalism, the lack of proper context is often a casualty. It took me 18 months to post the video online because of this, but i wanted to share the wonder of elephants.

Therefore i urge you all to look beyond and recognize the significance of meaningful wilderness encounters. That modern man still shares a kinship with the wild. That our natural world … and its conservation … is absolutely essential to our well-being.

That in order to maintain our own respect and dignity, we must treat our environment in the same way.

My message is about a transformative view of elephant awareness.

And wilderness conservation. It is time to view these animals through a different lens, a lens that also incorporates our own wholeness and sacred attitudes.

The encounter was after all about the elephant, not me.

Please visit www.unjovu.weebly.com for more.

With wild warm wilderness wishes,
Alan McSmith

I’ll be honest, if I had no further context other than the video itself, I would have already been so in awe of this man, this ranger of the wilderness, so as to be reduced to a dribbling pile of respect and wonder. Now that I have his account of things, and I hear him saying things like:

In the jungles of social media sensationalism, the lack of proper context is often a casualty. It took me 18 months to post the video online because of this, but i wanted to share the wonder of elephants.

Therefore i urge you all to look beyond and recognize the significance of meaningful wilderness encounters. That modern man still shares a kinship with the wild. That our natural world … and its conservation … is absolutely essential to our well-being.

Well, I think I’m just about on the verge of a full-on breakdown.

Imagine, you dedicate your life to nature and the wilderness. Your one guiding principle is the love you have for the environment and the creatures that share our planet, and you wish more than anything to educate people about the delicate, fundamental balance that must exist between us and them. A balance that includes lethal dangers. One day you are hiking through the verdant bushland, leading a party of those to whom you wish to show the full wonder of nature. You have likely been on this trail before. The birds chirp as you read the terrain, fully in command of your craft, when suddenly, in a once-in-a-blue-moon chance, things take a turn. You stop. You look around, and you see it. A bull elephant staring at you and your party from across the clearing, his body language telling you everything you need to know. He’s sizing you up. You have made this your temporary turf, but more than that it is—and always will be—the bull’s. Your charges are fully in your care. You slowly usher them behind you as you turn to face your fate. Every single member of your group feels the overwhelming urge to run. Their conscious thought and your stern words to stand still, for the love of god, stand and don’t run! are run roughshod over by a primitive, ancient fear. Hell, deep down you want to run too. Yet you know you have to stand your ground, and they with you. Who knows how many lives are in your hands. The bull locks eyes with you, swaying its head from side to side. Time hangs still in the air, thick as soup. This is it. No anger, weapons, or violence—just respect, knowledge, and a deep love for what you see before you. Will you have what it takes?

And then, after all is said and done, you make this face:

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I’m sorry, if you need me, I’ll just be over here, re-evaluating all of my life choices, buying some safari shorts, and leaving everything to go study with this man.

——-

Petr Knava lives in London and plays music



Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.



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