Among all the dangerous wildlife in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, a stampeding elephant like the one that charged Zander and Stefni Rautenbac would normally top the list. That is unless, of course, the elephant is just a young baby practicing its charges, then it becomes the cutest video the internet has seen in years.
In the video, posted to YouTube by the couple, the young elephant can be seen pacing back and forth, as if it were gathering courage for its demonstration in the coming seconds. Then, it flares its ears out wide, to look as big as the little guy could and strike fear into his target. And next, the reason we are all watching, the elephant begins a wobbly-headed charge to show the camera that he means business.
One Facebook user described this video the best, calling it, “Cuteness overload.”
This little guy managed to impress onlookers, who seemingly all stopped to witness this budding giant as he perfects his craft. In an interview with Newsweek, cameraman Zander Raytenbac spoke about his feelings when he realized what was happening at this “elephant roadblock:”
“My wife and I are passionate wildlife enthusiasts and spent Christmas together with our family in the Kruger National Park. We chose Malelane satellite camp as our festive destination and that is also where we managed to capture many awe-inspiring sightings.”
“We always manage to find ourselves in what we like to call an ‘elephant roadblock.’ We were stationary waiting for a herd of elephants enjoying the H3 tar road when this young elephant decided to practice his charging skills. We were impressed with his tenacity and started filming.”
Rautenbac also offered some advice to any wannabe wildlife photographers that hope to capture a video like this someday:
“Tips for capturing any memorable sifting in wild is patience and always having your camera ready because you never know what unforgettable moments nature is dishing up next.”
According to the park website‘s explanation of a mock charge versus a real one, this seemed to be a playful display of power, rather than an outburst of anger from the young Dumbo. The park gives this explanation for how to tell the difference between the two:
“It is imperative to keep in mind that Elephant are extremely intelligent and each individual has a distinct character. Although there will be exceptions to the rules, the common signs of a mock charge are bush-bashing, dust-throwing, trumpeting and other vocalizations, open ears and an intimidating presence, can be considered a mock-display.”
In a great turn of events for the elephant population, Kruger National Park reports having seen a massive increase in the number of African elephants in South Africa:
“Once ranging across most of Africa the Elephant population has declined dramatically across the continent. In South Africa the Addo Elephant and Kruger National Park protect large herds. Due to rigorous conservation measures the Elephant population in South Africa has grown from a estimated 120 in 1920 in 4 locations, to 10 000 at 40 locations to date.”
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