There is no denying! I have become an Elephanatic. The way these peaceful and joyful giants present themselves, particular here in Botswana, is just priceless.
Having taken 100’s off elephant photos already, little did I know about my upcoming Elephantastic show, here at Nxai National Park.
I was contemplating on visiting this Park, but on my “see what happens’ theory, decided to do so. I am glad I did. Having a relaxed lunch break around some historic Baobab trees, I drove the unimaginable badly corrugated sand track further north. A little waterhole was my destination, the only available water source in this area.
I didn’t expect a high quantity of grazers and predators around, as most moved southwest to the Boteti River.
A pair of jackals, mainly nocturnal scavengers, scouted the ground, whilst an ostrich roamed the savanna.
They ran in heavy traffic. 4 elephants, rather pale in colour, came my way. They looked thirsty and hot, surely they are heading for the waterhole. Half of them were younger ones, maybe they are up to some play?
The caravan came out through some bushes right in front off me.
While the leader took a shortcut.
Highly impressive in size, they crossed the road in front of me.
Arriving at the waterhole, 7 elephants occupied the fairly small pond already.
All were males it appeared, rather unusual.
One big bull wandered over to my side off the pond,
he wasn’t far away. Not at all.
He was just about as anxious about Zimba as I was of him.
Meanwhile, the troop off four arrived.
After a quick ceremonial introduction and rank standings, it was shower time.
There is just no business like shower business.
The leader of the four strolled over to the elephant closest to me. Another anxious moment. If they decided to have a wrestle, I was in the wrong spot. The smaller one acknowledged his arrival and retrieved. Phew.
The two smaller ones off the arriving herd were happy for a mud shower for the time being.
However, the look of the cooling liquid was just too tempting.
One by one, they slid into the muddy waters. What a scenario.
Watching these two youngsters pushing and shoving, quenching their thirst was a spectacular sight.
One of the youngsters felt a bit cheeky and provoked the other for a mud wrestling match.
Meanwhile, there was a bit of commotion on elephant hill. A submissive bull, cornered by a bigger bull, blew his trumpet. His friend, smaller than him, came over to calm him down. What a moving scene.
The youngsters meanwhile lost all sense of reality, enjoying the waters immensely.
Blowing air bubbles, spraying mud on each other,
or just simply sitting back.
These elephant scenes cannot be described.
In between, there was time for cleaning their eyes. These young trunks are incredibly flexible.
The bull, who stood closest to earlier, used a termite mound to scratch areas he couldn’t reach. If I wouldn’t know better, he was smiling looking towards in relief. It really was hard to concentrate on all elephants with so much going on. Particularly the young ones in the pool kept me entertained.
One of them decided it’s time to get out, in peculiar ways.
Slowly moving out, still spraying mud and swerving his trunk, he demonstrated how a trunk can be used.
A real trunk artist.
His mate was still in the water, so he decided to join him again. He was welcomed with a mud shower, that’s what friends are for.
He didn’t appreciate this gesture, before settling back into the mud.
His mate decided that it’s time for a matchup.
These two got the entertainment award for the afternoon, whilst other elephants disappeared in the distance.
The audience just watched in elephant laughter, I am sure.
Over and over, they matched up. One had a few dirty tricks of his trunk. Boys will be boys.
After all that heated entertainment, it was time to refuel and enjoy the cold waters.
Leaving his trunk out like a submarine, this one had the time of his life. His mate did too, showing what he’s got.
He then decided it’s time to move on and tried to help the other out of the water. But he wasn’t done yet.
Again and again, he got pushed until his friend eventually was out.
He was clearly not impressed to be on dry land, whilst the other had yet another mud bath. That just isn’t fair.
It was time for the group leader to step in. With a trunk touching gesture, he signaled for the other to come out.
The younger one replied with a gentle trunk anchor. OM-D, some humans should take an example of this behaviour.
A more serious look from the elephant who was possibly dad showed he wasn’t joking. It’s time to get out.
Unwillingly and slowly he got out. That’s it for the afternoon show I thought. It only was an intermission.
One quick late drink for the youngster, whilst dad was already on his way, dodging the incoming guinea fowl armada. These were thirsty too and carelessly moved within their well-oversized counterparts.
The first youngster out had a dust shower, typical elephant protocol.
The other one, however, was mesmerized by the reflecting waters. The smile on his face meant only one thing. He appeared to be tussling with himself. I am not allowed to go back in, but I sooo want to.
He compromised by sitting on the edge and if he slips in, it wasn’t his fault. Well, the inevitable happened.
His body mass couldn’t support the slippery slope and ‘whoops’, he was back in.
What a clown this one is. Clearly satisfied he made the most out of his so-called unwanted situation.
Hugging the shoreline over and over again, he knew he was told to get out. But it’s sooo much fun in the water.
Swirling the waters by trampling, and throwing mud around,
he just wasn’t ready to go.
Like a little kid throwing a tantrum, this one was more entertaining.
Nope, not just yet. This is just to nice to leave.
One last stretch, before he reluctantly got out of the pond. I really couldn’t believe what just happened the last few hours. I don’t think many people witnessed such a spectacle. And if they did, I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.
The sun was setting low and I still had a tortuous corrugated track in front of me. I had to be out by 6:30 pm and 40 km to cover. I stopped where I met this entertaining herd of elephants the first time. Sure enough, they were coming back this very same way.
The leader had already gone home, the last three arrived with the setting sun.
Crossing the road at the very same spot, giving us one cheeky look, as if to say ‘ I hope you enjoyed the show’. ‘I sure did, but not as much as you did’ I thought.
So the elephant caravan disappeared in the bush and this is how this Elephantastic story ends. A full circle of entertainment. I needed a coffee to calm my nerves (sounds contradictive, I know), before pushing poor Zimba through this rough track. His shock absorbers got a fair work out, as did the whole car. With long and deep soft sand pockets, I needed to keep momentum up, which wasn’t favourable for anything. On the dot 6:30 pm I arrived at the gate. The office was already closed, rangers were at home in nearby housing. I stopped as I hadn’t paid my fees yet. The ranger lady came towards me within her fenced surroundings and said it’s all ok, I can go. Woohoo, bonus.