Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Elephant Encounters

Right, my current obsession is with elephants.

This link is a picture of an Indian elephant. Here is a picture of an African elephant who wasn't in the best frame of mind when we met him.

Look at the ears. It is said that an Indian elephant has ears in the shape of India, and an African elephant has ears the shape of Africa. I can see where they are coming from with that.

Our ranger told us loads about elephants. He does believe they never forget. When we were out in the jeeps we were told we must not stand up when an animal approached us, but on one occasion when an elephant was sniffing around the jeep, the ranger told us a woman stood up and took a picture which flashed and scared the elephant away. A few months later she was back and again out on safari when they encountered the same elephant. Once again it walked around the jeep looking at everyone aboard, but when it came to the woman who had previously frightened it, it took one look, trumpeted in terror and charged away.

The ranger also told us that when an elephant dies and his herd passes back by the remains, they stop and examine them, and then take some of the bones with them, as though they are mourning.

We were out one morning when through a clearing emerged a very pissed off young elephant, aged about 18. He trumpeted when he saw us, and it was definitely a 'Mess with me at your peril' sound. It then stomped around the jeep and seemed to be going away. Only then he changed his mind and came back at us and stood right behind our truck. He started stamping on the ground, shaking its ears and positively bellowing in fury at the interlopers on his patch. We couldn't move at that moment because it would have taken a face full of diesel fumes which wasn't best guaranteed to improve its teenage strop. After some minutes of this stand off it stepped back a few paces and our driver took the opportunity to hit the accelerator. Then to misquote Shakespeare it was a case of 'Exit, pursued by elephant.' It bloody well charged after us for at least a kilometer. They can't half shift. Another experience I am unlikely to forget.

As was the moment when we were all having cocktails in the dark when the rangers told us to move back into the jeeps straight away whilst they took out their rifles and aimed them at the two enormous elephants which emerged out of the dark to drink at the dam where we had been standing drinking just moments before. After all is said and done, they are powerful creatures and tragedies like this one can happen.

And as for the farting elephant....oh gawd! You would have had to be there to fully appreciate the full horror of that one. First of all a sound that was vaguely familair (I do have teenage boys), and then a truly horrific smell whilst some metres away an elephant was looking rather pleased with itself.

But apart from hormonal elephants, most of the ones we saw seemed very amiable and relaxed and some of them were really very cute indeed.


Pixie said...

Just read all your africa stuff and admired your lovely photos.
Sounds like it was definately a trip of a lifetime.
And now it's home and that man of yours....!

Kevin Williamson said...

Envious JJ. Them trunk roads sure sound thrilling.

J.J said...

Oh yes Pixie - there are major benefits to being home again - and the day I spent at Reidski's on Monday was definitely one of them!

Kev - good one :-)