Bruce Baird and his wife stand in front of Victoria Falls located in Zimbabwe.

History teacher Bruce Baird braves charging elephants, aggressive monkeys on a self-drive African safari

This summer, history teacher Bruce Baird traveled to Africa to embark on a self-drive safari. First, he and his wife rented a truck. Then they drove and camped around African wildlife reserves.

Q: Where in Africa did you go?

A: To southern Africa: The Republic of South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Q: Why did you go?

A: Because my wife planned a vacation there. She said it was on my bucket list, but I don’t believe that! I think it was on her bucket list.

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Q: What animals did you see?

A: Lots of elephants, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, wildebeests, hippopotami, baboons and monkeys. More rarely we saw these striped dogs called wild dogs. People come from miles and miles to see them. We also saw cheetahs, leopards and rhinoceros which are very endangered.

Q: How about lions?

A: We never did see a lion, but they were roaring at night. The camps had no protection or gates, so they were all around us. You didn’t go out at night time.

Q: Were you ever scared?

A: I never felt endangered because I was in a truck. My wife was very afraid of elephants turning us over because of this YouTube video she saw of elephants crushing cars. The campground was high off the ground, so nothing could really get to you.

Q: Really, you were never scared?

A: The one time (I was scared) is when I went to Great Zimbabwe. There is this ancient kingdom and they built this stone enclosure. I went to see it by myself. I wanted to go see it more closely and inside this area all these monkeys started moving towards me. These males were very aggressive monkeys. The first thing that popped in my mind was the flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz.” That was the only time I was a little scared because I could probably only take out one of those monkeys; they have big teeth.

Q: Are there any other stories that stick out?

A: When we entered into Botswana we stopped in a couple of places, and we saw a little wildlife. I wasn’t impressed. I said to my wife,  “I don’t feel like I’m in Africa yet.” Then we went into another game reserve called Morani, and the roads got very sandy. We came right smack into a herd of 40 elephants and we were surrounded. I said to my wife, “Now, we’re in Africa.”

Q: How did you maneuver around 40 elephants?

A: It was like a miracle. The elephants just parted, and they were mostly mothers and babies. Later on, we came upon other herds where we saw young males, and they would start doing this mock charge. My wife was so scared. I had a strategy: when one of the elephants came towards us, I moved the car behind the tree. The elephants were staring at us, trying to figure out what we were doing.


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