college. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull
elephant standing with one leg raised in the air.
The elephant seemed distressed so Mbembe approached it very carefully.
He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot, and found a
large thorn deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he
could, Mbembe worked the thorn out with his hunting knife, after which
the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face
the man and with a rather stern look on its face, stared at him. For
several tense moments Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but
being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and
Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty
years later he was walking through a zoo with his teenaged son. As they
approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and
walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing. The
large bull elephant stared at Mbembe and lifted its front foot off the
ground then put it down. The elephant did that several times then
trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.
Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if
this was the same elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over
the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to
the elephant and stared back in wonder. Suddenly the elephant trumpeted
again, wrapped its trunk around one of the man's legs and swung him
wildly back and forth along the railing, killing him.
Probably wasn't the same elephant.