There’s something unexplainable that happens to you when you see your first Elephant in the wild. All of you who have experienced it will know what I mean, but for anyone reading who has not had the privilege, I can only urge you to make it one of your top priorities in life. I’ve sat and written, re-written and discarded everything as I’ve tried to put into writing the thrill of your first encounter, but just cannot do it justice.
We stopped to watch every Elephant we came across and spent quite a lot of time with them. On one drive North of Shingwedzi, we came across a large herd in the riverbed. After a while, they left the river and proceeded to cross the road in front of us. There were at least 50 individuals that we noted, with many calves of varying ages. As the Matriarch crossed in front, she sensed that we were there and sniffed the air suspiciously, then melted away into the bush. A few moments later, we saw a movement in the bush next to the bakkie and saw that she had crept up alongside, so quietly we had not heard a thing. I was amazed that for such a big animal in close proximity, we could hardly see her behind a couple of bushes, she just blended perfectly into her environment. Eventually she decided that we were not a threat and melted away as effortlessly as she had appeared.
Another group were also in a riverbed and the mother dug a hole in the sand to ger at water, Her baby was allowed to drink first before the others took their fill.DIY Waterhole.
Our next sighting involved a lone Bull as he stood motionless in the bush. Suddenly he shivered, raising clouds of rich, red dust from his back. Roused from his dozing, he proceeded to rip up a Mopani bush and began to feed. His strength was apparent in the ease at which he plucked the bush out of the ground, like a child picking daisy’s from a lawn!Dusting.Picking Daisy's
As mentioned at the end of my last report, we were charged by an Elephant – The cheeky bu**er demanded 100 Rand to take his photo! (Sorry, old joke, but can never resist it!). We came across him as he drank from the waterhole on the Lamont Loop. He seemed quite content and ignored us as we pulled over about 300 metres down the road. When he finished drinking, he ate a few mouthfuls of grass, when he suddenly looked over and gave us a stare. He then turned slowly away and walked behind a few trees, ambling away slowly in the opposite direction. Next thing we knew was that he had circled around the trees and was heading directly at us at a rate of knots! The bakkie was now in full reverse, with the Ellie following and starting to gain on us. Fortunately, he turned off into the bush and carried on feeding as if nothing had just happened at all! To be honest, it was not a full on charge with trumpeting and I think that he was just having a bit of a laugh at our expense. Some sense of humour
“Is this my best side?”
Occasionally you will come across one that is not bothered by your presence and will allow you the opportunity to take close up photos. I just love their eyes, with all their wrinkles and folds in the skin and can spend a lot of time just looking at all the patterns they form.Wrinkles.
From one of the bridges (I think somewhere near Letaba?) we saw a small herd crossing the river below. One of the youngsters was keeping close tabs on his mother by curling his trunk around her tail. She led it over the rocky ground with a gentleness that belies their size.
Mother and Baby.
As I’ve run out of “Raptors in trees with Sunset” pics, I’ll leave you with the herd as it crossed the riverbed in single file. This is one of my favourite photographs from Kruger to date, especially as the lead animal has her trunk in the air as if to signal the direction they are about to take.Single file.
I’m afraid that I will be away for almost a week, so will continue with this report on my return next Wednesday or Thursday. Hope you all have a good week in the meantime.