Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Some Eventfull Days with the Elephants in Madikwe

Before I start with my elephant story I would just like to welcome Gerry and Adele at Tuningi (I know it is a bit late but hey...) especially from our manager Heidi and from your "Professional" field guide colleagues myself and Gavin, yes you read correctly I used "THAT" word !

Well back to the main story. Gerry joined me one afternoon on the drive not to learn the roads..............to take photos, what did you guys think Everything started of a bit quite,then we arrived at Tlou dam and saw a breeding herd in the distance, they were really in no hurry to come to the dam. We decided to leave the dam in pursuit of some other animals. But one could see those ellies were not acting normal so we decided to wait a while..............a while past and again decided to leave. Just as we got of the dam wall the ellies wanted to cross to the western side and off course we waited for them, you are not going to argue with an angry 3,5 ton female roadblock:) All the elephants stood on the eastern side of the road all in a big bundle with one male at the back busy scratching where it doesn't itch. So we thought it was the bull upsetting them like that. From no where one female came from the back and started chasing us so I put the cruiser in reverse and camera in the one hand, I just thought I had to get the shot, so while reversing my finger was clicking away, she chased us for about 20-30 m. and then stopped.

The whole herd turned around and crossed. Unfortunately for the Nkurru vehicle they got chased as well by the same female. That is one thing about female elephants when they get upset by the first vehicle the second vehicle they come across get it in double glory !

Today at the lodge we had almost all the ellies in Madikwe at the lodge even one big bull decided that the trees inside the camp were better looking then the ones outside and walked through the gate like he does it every day ! What a cheek ? We chased him out and believe me he wasn't happy with the humans at Tuningi !

Gavin and myself went down to little Tuningi's swimming pool to see the ellies drink from the pool, it was great fun. They did not even mind us being there on the deck and that close to them. It is really an amazing feeling to share the space with such a big animal. All the big females could reach the pool with their trunks, the little ones had a bit of a struggle. They normally come and drink at the pool in the winter, we don't really see them here in the summer because of all the water in the bush during the rainy season. Most of the big females had a drink first then came the subordinate females. We could see how the level of the pool dropped rapidly as they drank. In elephant society there is a matriarch leading them and she is in charge of all the decisions the herd has to make. She also leads them to water and as soon as she had enough she left and we could see how the others rushed their drink to follow her.

Luckily we have a fence around the lodge because the ellies have caused quite a bit of damage at one of our neighbouring lodges. Elephants have the ability to smell water under ground inside the pipes. They then start digging and pull the pipe out like it is a game. Well it is not so much fun for the managers at the lodge, but hey you got to love them.......!!

Till next time

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