Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Day of the Elephant

I think we saw every elephant roaming this part of the Klaserie Reserve today. All of the elephant stories of the Klaserie were read in one sitting it seems.

We started off in the morning seeing 3 adolescent to young adult male elephants who had been shooed away from their
matriarch-led herds. After we returned from our morning drive the heard from which those 3 males were likely ousted was grazing in our campsite. I nearly felt like I was part of the herd as they grazed in front of my tree lodge during my afternoon writing and leisure time.

As our afternoon drive began, we saw what was likely the same herd that had dined with us at our camp in the afternoon and had moved to a different part of the bush by this time.  Part of this family was an adolescent teenaged girl who was quite irritable and fussy (whether she was missing her male counterparts or was one of the causes for them leaving is anyone's guess..). Amazing how similar their stages of life are to ours as humans! This teen was particularly bold and cantankerous. She did not like our Rover being so close to her space. She was quite boisterous, raising her trunk, flapping her ears and looking as if she wanted to charge us. We held our ground.

As the herd moved, our driver would re-position us around to get a better view and not to lose them too far away. She had about enough of us. She turned and walked assiduously towards us, without a full on charge, but not stopping either. Our tracker was sitting on a chair on the hood of our Rover, and this brazen young elephant walked up to our Rover, clearly irritated with us, challenging us and bullying us to retreat. As she continued to get closer and closer, our Guide was scolding her, shaking his finger at her, telling her in a fully dominant tone and energy that she needed to behave and get back to her herd. She argued a bit, rubbing his legs with her trunk in defiance. He firmly pushed her head back and scolded her further. She soon thereafter acquiesced to his firm, dominant and authoritarian energy, retreating and returning to her herd, having made her point. It was one of the most amazing scenes I’d ever witnessed. It was just a little unnerving, but I never felt for a moment that our Guide was not in control of that situation despite the extreme disparate physical advantages of her vs. us.

After that, we all decided it was time for our “sundowner”. I think we all needed a drink after that grumpy teenaged elephant show down!  We stopped by one of the watering holes in the area and enjoyed an always elegant arrangement of wine, liquor and evening snacks.   

As we were enjoying our refreshments in the beautiful evening, a family of elephants joined us for their own "sundowner" drink and bath. 

The baby was adorably curious and playful, but not yet having quite the same level of agility to match his exploring ways.   

Mama had to help him a few times out of some sticky situations, but he seemed to enjoy the challenges to which he so enthusiastically subjected himself.

What a range of emotions we had this evening with our elephant friends. An amazing experience of polar emotions that will be forever emblazoned into our memories.


To see more about nThambo Tree Camp see here: nThambo Tree Camp.  To see more of my pictures from the Klasserie Reserve and my time at nThambo, see here: South African Safari - Klaserie Reserve Best Shots

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