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Elephants: fascinating beasts!

Elephants: fascinating beasts!

Before I went to Africa, elephants didn’t do much for me. Of course it’s a colossal animal with a trunk and tusks and that all points in its favour, but I just wasn’t feeling so excited about them. The first elephant I ever saw was a worn out female that was spending the last years of her life in Okavango. Pretty cool of course, to see your first elephant, but still it didn’t really change my mind about elephants. Till I saw them together.

Elephants are known as smart animals and you can actually see that! In Etosha National Park in Namibia we encountered a whole group of them. That’s also a story in itself by the way. I’ll tell it real quick. On the first day in Etosha we wanted to leave the park at the end of the day. Our route would take us alongside Olifantsbad, a place where Elephants like to come and take a bath together. While we were driving we only encountered a van and it turned out this van had a flat tire. This wasn’t just the case, but they had driven on it for eight more kilometres! The wheel now looked like the wheel of a train, the rim was completely worn away. They weren’t so handy with changing tires so we helped them with that. Meanwhile the sun went down.

When we continued our driving it was almost dark. Finally we had almost reached Olifantsbad when we suddenly saw broken off branches and poo lying on the road. Not long after that, happened what we had feared for, the road was blocked by elephants. We quickly wanted to turn around, and while we were doing that, we heard an elephant very loudly trumpet. Let’s get out of here! So we had do drive all the way back through the now completely dark National Park. We did encounter a spotted hyena which was a nice bonus. Then the local police had to open the gate of the park and let us out. It turned out not to be such a big deal, two guys with police caps opened the gate and let us out. So altogether an interesting experience with elephants!

The next day we watched them in all their glory during the daylight and then we see how much actually happens in a group of elephants. The group contains a couple of adult animals and also smaller ones of different sizes. The adults are bothering themselves a bit with the smaller ones that are bathing in the water. One really tiny Elephant doesn’t dare to go in and stands doubtful near the water while the mother pushes it encouragingly with her trunk. I could watch these animals for hours!

The second experience took place in South-Africa in the Pilanesberg park. This park has a couple of large hides out of which you can look out over the water. We were in luck that in front of one of those hides two elephants were playing with each other. It was a strange and interesting sight, often they completely intertwined their trunks, then they walked after each other and were pushing a bit back and forth, of course a lot of splashing was involved! Later it turned out to be some kind of mating ritual, because the actual mating also happened. So elephants show a lot of variation in their behaviour and that’s why they are very entertaining to watch. The elephant has become one of my favourite animals! Sadly the photos are not all that I had hoped for, but the interaction can be seen nicely, hopefully I will have some better ones in the future!

Elephants aren’t the only mammals that can be found in Africa. Click here for other Ungulates and Hippo’s.

We also saw cats. Click here for Lion, Leopard and Cheetah.

Africa has many birds, read about birds of the African garden, the swamp, the savanna and hornbills.

For pictures of African landscapes click here for Okavango, Sossusvlei and Spitzkoppe.

LennartVerheuvel

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