Elephants wonderful subjects that are usually at ease around visitors and offer plenty of character which I am happily challenged to capture. One drawback is that they are not the most colorful creatures, but shapes and textures make up for that.
In Kruger we often enjoy lingering on a scarcely traveled dirt road in the middle of a family herd or close to a watering hole. I love watching the hierarchy in action and the protection and caution enforced by the senior females. They truly seem to enjoy simple pleasures such as the daily drink at the watering hole and a choice tree branch. On the private reserves it is not uncommon to be so close that you can hear them breathing, smell them, and hear them chewing. Often the herd is spread across the road: you can not see all the members because they have an uncanny ability to hide in the smallest of trees and walk silently but you can hear the destruction of trees.
Elephants are not shy to go about their business in the presence of the safari vehicle. Our guides have to be very aware of the attitudes of the herd members and sometimes moves us away if something such as sparing gets out of control.
Parking at a watering hole is great entertainment: you never know what you might see. Elephants cautiously approach with the matriarch leading the way. The young ones are kept close and in the middle of the herd. They love the water and spray and drink with the babies causing mayhem. Some seem so young that they do not know how to drink properly.
This was a great day in Kruger. The elephants were digging in the dry riverbed to make a mud and water hole. The mother showed her juvenile how to dig – making him do most of the work while the baby got in the way and enjoyed all the fun. Mom got impatient and pushed the kids out of the way so she could drink. On the other side of the vehicle was a large wallow full of mud and elephants – splendid.
I have decide that I want a trunk: it is such an amazing appendage and when used by a master such as an elephant it is remarkable what they can do. Watching them strip bark, fling water, and caress their children evokes respect and wonder.
This is a very old elephant who lives on Thornybush Reserve (our neighbor). He comes very close the vehicle and casually demonstrates how to pick and eat a good lunch. He was famous for breaking the fence to our reserve and camping out at our marula tree gorging on fruit until he was herded back to his own reserve. Sadly he has now passed away.
This is one way to introduce color to a neutral colored elephant!
Interesting shapes and texture brings interest to photographs and elephants have it all that. There is not a boring angle or detail on them. When they get too close, I like to snap close ups of skin, tusks and eyes. Elephant hair from their tails was once used to make a traditional bracelet.
I hope you have been inspired and entertained by my elephant photos and stories: join me on safari and experience this joy first hand.