Safety Notice: Elephants

9 Jan 2017

Dear Visitors

Recently, elephant have taken up a permanent position on the Eastern Shores of Lake St Lucia. They are also regularly encountered on the Western Shores and uMkhuze sections. The Park has approximately 100 elephants on the Eastern/Western Shores and another 100 in the uMkhuze section. Elephants are naturally a huge drawcard for tourists however we urge visitors to exercise caution when encountering them.

Please be advised that when anywhere in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, sitting on the back of an open vehicle or in a vehicle with no roof and/or sides* is not permitted due to the dangers posed by wild animals and in particular elephants. Guests doing this will be asked at gates to get into their vehicles or turned away from the Park gates. Open cab vehicles will need to put a roof on and sides down before being given entry. A reasonable distance should be maintained from elephants (50 metres) and guests may not get out of the vehicles or lean out of windows for any reason including the taking of photographs. (*Except for iSimangaliso licensed game drive vehicles.)

You are referred to Regulations 15 and 16: NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: PROTECTED AREAS ACT 57 OF 2003 (Gazette No. 26025, Notice No.181, 1 November 2004) REGULATIONS FOR THE PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF SPECIAL NATURE RESERVES, NATIONAL PARKS AND WORLD HERITAGE SITES (Government Notice R1061, Government Gazette 28181, 28 October 2005), as amended and the criminal sanctions concerning a breach of the said regulations.

You are further advised that any guest that behaves or operates any vehicle in a reckless or negligent manner, or in deliberate or intentional disregard for the safety of any person, species, specimen or property of whatever nature does so entirely at their own risk.

Should you encounter any negative elephant behaviour or misbehaviour by other Park users around elephant sightings, please record vehicle details, take photographs and contact the iSimangaliso emergency phone 082 797 7944.

Please read the information overleaf to on how to approach and behave around elephants in the Park, to assist you in enjoying your elephant encounters in a safe manner.

Andrew Zaloumis
Chief Executive Officer
iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority 

How to approach and behave near elephants when in a vehicle


  • Slow down as soon as you see elephants
  • Switch off the engine, sit quietly and enjoy the elephants
  • Keep an eye on both sides and the rear of the vehicle for approaching elephants
  • Make sure you can easily drive away from the sighting
  • Allow the elephants a clear path away from the area
  • Give the elephants space to move off the road before driving past them
  • Retreat slowly if the elephants are showing any signs of unease or mild threat
  • Drive away slowly and quietly if they continue to show any threatening behaviour
  • Give a musth bull (evident by dark, oily secretions on either side of the head) lots of space (more than 50m); their testosterone levels make them short tempered
  • Reverse if a musth bull is in front of you; don’t drive past or let him walk towards you
  • If any elephant displays aggressive behaviour such as rushing towards a vehicle, tusking the ground, throwing sand/branches at you or trumpeting loudly) always play it safe and retreat.


  • Never rush up to the elephants
  • Never drive closer than 50 metres to the nearest elephant
  • Never park your car over any elephant footpaths leading off from the road
  • Never box the elephants in when other vehicles are present
  • Never cut off or block elephants from the direction they are walking
  • Never drive or park between members of the elephant herd
  • Never drive for extended periods when elephants are walking along the road
  • Never rev the engine when elephants are present
  • Never try to push elephants off the road
  • Never speed past elephants or drive faster than elephants generally walk (6km/hour)
  • Never drive off the road or leave your vehicle to get closer to elephants
  • Never make any noises or fast, jerky movements to attract their attention
  • Never hang out of windows or sunroofs around elephants