SI Vault
Jose Fenykovi
June 04, 1956
In the dense, wild bush of Angola, in Africa, a hunter tracks and kills the largest animal ever shot on earth
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June 04, 1956

The Biggest Elephant Ever Killed By Man

In the dense, wild bush of Angola, in Africa, a hunter tracks and kills the largest animal ever shot on earth

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After 30 minutes of hard running the heat and the exertion began to tell on my 65 years. Mario and Francisco were ahead of me. I whistled at them and told Mario and Kukuya to go for the jeep. I knew it might be a long chase. I had no idea where the jeep was, but trusted in their jungle training to find it. Francisco and I sat down to rest until the jeep arrived. While we waited, I amused myself by teaching Francisco how to use the .375 rifle which he carried for me as a reserve weapon but which he had never fired. He was delighted to be able to try it.

It took Mario and Kukuya two hours to find the jeep and return to us. We sat down for a while longer, ate some canned food and took a few sips of our much reduced supply of water.

Half an hour later we were on the trail again, this time with the jeep. After about two and a half miles through fairly open country, the tracks of the two elephants entered a patch of thickly wooded jungle.

We left the jeep at the entrance to the thicket. Francisco and Kukuya entered the wood noiselessly. Mario and I followed with equal caution. The smoke from Mario's cigaret, and my talcum powder, showed a variable wind, not a comforting sign when we were going into blindingly thick bush after two pain-maddened elephants,either one of which could kill us all easily.

We crept forward, one careful step after another, for what seemed an age. The jungle was absolutely quiet. Suddenly Francisco held up his hand and signaled that he saw something. I strained my eyes. Yes, about 20 yards ahead we could see something moving slowly among the thick mass of branches and leaves. We could not make out what part of which of the two enormous animals it was, but I slowly raised my .416 rifle to take aim at the moving mass of gray hide.

I fired two bullets from the .416. Almost simultaneously the other big rifle went off at my side. That was Mario. Then we heard a shot from the .375. It was Francisco, who only an hour before learned to use the rifle and was now getting off his first shot—into the body of the biggest elephant ever shot by man.

Before the echo of our shots died away, pandemonium started in the jungle. The crash and cracking of broken trees and branches sounded like an artillery battle. We did not stop to listen, but turned and ran as hard as we could for open country. Deep in a jungle was no place to be with two injured elephants you could not see and with a variable wind that could give our position away at any moment.

When we got 50 yards outside the thicket, we turned and waited for the chase. The wind by now was at our backs, carrying our scent straight to the great beasts. But the attack did not come. Inside the jungle the crash and tear of trees continued. We started to run around the thicket, which was fortunately small—about a mile and a half in circumference—keeping a good 50 or 60 yards from the edge of the forest.

This way we reached the place where we had left our jeep. I saw, to my astonishment, not 10 feet from the jeep the bloody tracks of the big elephant. He had passed the jeep only a few seconds before.

A little way from the jeep we found the tracks of the smaller beast who had taken off in the opposite direction from his larger companion. Fortunately for us, the two monsters had separated and now the job was not quite so dangerous. We had only one elephant at a time to worry about and he (the big one) had six .416 bullets and one from the .375 in his vitals.

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