February 2024

Bull Elephants

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Bull Elephants

We left the vehicle at the top of the riverbank and made our way on foot a few metres down the bank to watch these bulls come and drink at the spot we anticipated they would, and they did. What we didn’t anticipate was that the smaller of the four would slide down the opposite embankment on his rear end!

It was an awesome scene and they all drank, but then the bull with the big left tusk caught wind of us and was unsettled, so we hot-footed it back to the vehicle. A bull of that age has reason to be apprehensive of humans – it’s true that elephants never forget.

I’d refer to the youngest bull that slid down the slope as an "askari”, a word that translates to “soldier”. It refers to youthful bull elephants who accompany larger, elder bulls. Askaris are vigilant and offer company and protection to a senior bull, and receive mentorship, benefiting from the wisdom and experience of the senior. It was clear that the bull with the large left tusk was the senior of this bachelor herd.

The sun was setting and the light low, so by underexposing dramatically I was able to use the backlight off the river to put the senior bull in silhouette, as seen in the cover page image of this journal.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide