This tourist is either one of bravest men we’ve ever seen or he’s still reeling from shock after a bull elephant charged him during a trip in Thailand. In any case, the fact that he isn’t a pancake means he handled it perfectly—whether he meant to or not.
There’s a world of difference between a bluff charge and a real charge, but telling them apart can be very difficult. Just like bears and a number of other large animals, elephants may engage in “mock” charges. This means the elephant is not trying to kill you—not yet at least—but is merely trying to test you. Subtle signs of a mock charge include relaxed ears, swinging legs, and excessive trunk movement. These tend to indicate that the elephant is trying to scare you off.
In the case of a mock charge, many experts advise standing your ground. Unlike most other herbivores, elephants have a higher chance of chasing you if you turn your back and run, so staying rooted actually increases your chances of leaving the encounter alive. This is one of the rare cases where freezing up can actually work out in you favor.
Of course, if it’s a real charge, standing still may result in the elephant wearing you as a shoe. Try to climb upwards or find shelter if possible.