Botswana is the elephant hub off the world, no other country hosts as many of these gentle giants.
With constant water supply and fresh green grass, it is no wonder that the biggest concentration of elephants is in the Okavango Delta.
Moving in and out of the neighbouring countries, they can be seen almost anywhere.
I often had elephants appearing out of nowhere in front off Zimba. Hunting and poaching in the 70’ies and 80’ies reduced numbers drastically, the surviving elephants fled the scene. Recovering in large numbers since there is talk about reducing numbers again. I really hope not. Elephants cover large distances and are often seen in, or near human settlements. Their sheer body strength causes a lot of damage to flora and structure, their immense appetite causes headaches to farmers.
Despite all human interaction, the elephants in Botswana are wary but non-aggressive, even calm and placid.
Elephants can produce up to 150 kg off shite a day.
Elephants love, love, love water. Frolicking to cool down is part of their of social fun. The whole body submerges often, leaving only the trunk surfacing, a mammal submarine.
Unless there are some juicy water plants to be eaten.
Mud is normally the second course. Keeping the skin cool and parasites at bay. Bulls often spray their elephant-sized penis with mud.
The darker the soil the darker the elephant appears.
Some were literally black. If nothing else, then sand and dust works as an insect repellent.
When in musth, elephant bulls release a liquid from their gland behind their eyes. Pumped with adrenaline, they can be unpredictable. No anger was witnessed by myself.
What amazed me most was their facial expressions. Most of the time happy and smiling,
Sometimes thoughtful or tired, or even scared.
Almost human-like. The elephant body language is fairly easy to read.
This huge bull was enjoying food and drinks by the river.
The angle I was parked in, I got a good view of the parts I don’t see very often.
Flapping his ears to keep his cool,
shows his veins running through his ears like rivers on a map.
The trunk alone can weigh up to 50 kg’s and contains about 40 000 muscles, without bone structure.
This makes a trunk extremely flexible.
Particularly younger elephants show some impressive trunk acrobatics.
At the end of the trunk is a finger-shaped muscle, able to grab and hold on to grass and smaller items. This big bull came from inland and has not been in the water, yet.
Not far were these two young elephants, who had just been in the water. One of them looks like Pinocchio.
The rest of the herd didn’t quite make it to the water, as I surprised them coming around the corner.
Having two very young calves, the matriarch ordered a quick retreat in the bush for now. Sorry.
There were literally elephants everywhere along the River Kwai, emerging from the hot inland plains to cool down.
While I was watching this young ‘black’ bull with his antics, another herd on the other side of the river was heading straight for the water in quick fashion.
These were thirsty and longing for refreshments.
Having small calves, this was bound to be a family affair in their local swimming pool.
And that is exactly what it was. Hastily reaching the edge of the water, no time was wasted for a cool of. I couldn’t get my finger of the OM-D button, this was just too good to be true.
Like a family visit to ‘wet and wild’, this herd was ready for some water fun. Particularly the young ones made the most of it.
Climbing on mom’s back to slide off again.
From a photographer’s point of you, the water adds dramatically to the picture.
The wet skin shines and reflects the afternoon sun’s rays.
Half body water lines appear like bodysuits, or even masks.
This one could be named ‘Zorro’.
Every now and then, a quick glance over to my direction was taken.
I wasn’t that interesting, back to more important things.
The few small calves enjoyed the idea of having a bath immensely.
OM-D, so cute.
Zimba and I were parked only a few meters away from the edge of the river. When these elephants came out of the river on our side, they had gotten very close to us. Even though no aggressive body language was shown, it has gotten a bit too close for my comfort.
With very young elephants and protecting mothers, I decided to switch the ignition on, just in case. To my surprise, this caused panic by the herd. As if they hadn’t seen me or due to Zimba’s zebra painting, didn’t expect a car.
A bit further on was this very happy Chappy. He had put on his gumboots to cross the river.
The lower sinking afternoon sun reflected his happy soul on the calm waters. By this stage, I wasn’t going to take any more elephant photos, but who could resist this combination?
A similar scenario happened next. A herd of 3 elephants was drinking in shallow waters. Ok, I have seen that before.
But with the sinking sun shining over the animal and water, how could I resist.
Black shadows and reflections were dominating in orange background. Wow, what a way to finish this day.
Simply Elephantastic, the best word to describe it.