April 2021

An extended family affair


An extended family affair

We first watched a few bull elephants feeding in the reeds of the riverbed, then noticed the rest of the breeding herd appear on the far bank and cross the sand, trunks raised in S-shapes smelling the air, before negotiating the shallowest part of the river and sheparding their little charges to safety on the other side.

We drove around to Zero Two Pan and, sure enough, some of the herd were already there. Parking some distance away we spent the next hour indulging in their behaviour.

Some drank at the waterhole, others clustered together in tight family units. Those that were hot and bothered kicked up sand, slurped it up in their trunks and threw it over themselves with dramatic flair.

Some little calves stayed by their mothers side and suckled. A calf, emboldened by the audacity of youth, thought he should try his balancing skills on a fallen tree trunk.    

Occasionally one of the adults would come and stand near us, just taking a break from the herd, and at other times an irritable mother with a, “Do you know who I am?” attitude would come over and see if we were worth intimidating. With a head shake, ear flap and trunk flick she’d storm off to go and dispense discipline elsewhere.  

Once the extended family had moved off three bulls surrounded the vehicle, like circling gangsters itching for a fight, but decided we were such non-confrontational cowards that they sauntered off, in good humour.

A baby calf, about 18 months hold,  stays close to its mother.

This three-year-old, snuck away to try some balancing tricks.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
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