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Elephants are smart. They’re just trying to tell you: This is my turf, screw off. Here’s what the park has to say about this:
How do you tell an elephant’s mock charge from a serious one?
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.
Aggressive or startled elephants usually make sudden headshakes and flap their large ears against their head. Serious charges usually occur after all attempts to intimidate have failed, and the Elephant feels threatened. The ears are pinned back and head and trunk are lowered. Ultimately, the key lies in the intelligence of the animal and how they will react to the ‘target’ and unfamiliar actions, and a conscious decision is made.
If, for whatever reason, you’re in this situation, here’s some advice for how to deal with it, though: Don’t run.