Namibia, Khaudum National Park Elephant Tales Part 1 – The Runners

Elephant road train, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Elephant road train, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

It’s fair to say that I have seen many many elephants in the past 5 months, but I never recorded any of their behaviour here anywhere else. I realise that this is a hot, dry and dusty land. However, elephants behaviour here is very different from others in my travels.

A relaxing morning at the waterhole, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A relaxing morning at the waterhole, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

I watched these two younger ones in the dried out riverbed off the Khaudum River. It was still relatively early and these two seemed quite relaxed. Not much later, I noticed a dust cloud in the high grass behind them.

A herd off elephants running from the bush, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A herd of elephants running from the bush, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A larger herd off elephants came running as fast as they could, whirling a thick cloud of dust.

Even the tiny ones were flying, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Even the tiny ones were flying, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Even the young ones were at full speed. At first, I thought a pride of lions might have spooked them. Or the burn off fires further north that were closer than expected. None of the two scenarios occurred. Most of the herd ran on towards my side off the riverbed, a few hundred meters west.

In the mud at long last, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

In the mud at long last, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A smaller group scared the two previous elephants off and wasted no time to get to the tiny waterhole. Seemingly enjoying the water and mud, the small ones dived in almost head first. ‘Oh wow, these are really thirsty elephants’ I thought. It is hot and dry out here, there’s no denying. The larger part of the herd made the most off some waterholes further up. 

There is a car!, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

There is a car! Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The older elephant off the smaller group then realised that Zimba wasn’t a real Zebra. 

On the run, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

On the run, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Blowing her trunk, alarming the troops, they all started running again.

On the run again, passing the original occupants, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

On the run again, passing the original occupants, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

This was quite a spectacle to see. They passed the two previous occupants, who were munching on some high grass.

Whirling dust, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Whirling dust, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Full steam, or better dust ahead, this giant elephant train was in motion again. The small ones and the tail end of this road train got fully covered in fine dust

The large herd combined again, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The large herd combined again, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

until they reached the rest of this large group a bit further up.

Back to where we started, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Back to where we started, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The first two elephants I saw this morning gently walked back to the waterhole as if this is their daily morning routine. Maybe it is?

Nothing like a dust shower, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Nothing like a dust shower, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

I watched the larger group on their usual waterhole behaviour,

Dusting off, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Dusting off, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

drinking, mudding and a lot of dusting.

A photographer’s nightmare, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A photographer’s nightmare, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

However, they were a little far off and scrubs were in my lens. I started Zimba to drive a little bit closer.

Skiddish elephants, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Skiddish elephants, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

This caused another panic running reaction. They really are scared of cars or humans. Possibly both. Scaring these thirsty elephants off wasn’t what I wanted.

The engine stopped, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The engine stopped. Khaudum National Park, Namibia

I switched Zimba off again, which resulted in confusion.

Still waiting to see what happens, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Still waiting to see what happens, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The elephant train stopped right on the road tracks and didn’t move for a good 5 minutes.

Running back, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Running back, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Realising there is no danger, they turned around and emphatically ran back

I think we’re dusted off, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

I think we’re dusted off, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

to dust off.

Small one disappeared in dust, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Small one disappeared in dust, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The dust clouds were so thick that elephants disappeared in them.

Mud is just as good, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Mud is just as good, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Others enjoyed the mud more. Bless. Eventually, yep, they ran off again. These elephants are really skittish. Running in these hot and dry conditions surely doesn’t help to keep your cool.

Done and dusted, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Done and dusted, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

One last spray, then they were done and dusted. As amusing as it was to watch, the largest land mammal on earth ran from their worst enemy. A very sad thought. 

What is that?, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

What is that?, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The next candidate was this fairly young bull. He was all by himself when I saw him fairly close to the track.

I best have a sniff, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

I best have a sniff, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

I switched Zimba of once more which wakened his curiosity.

Hang on! That is not a zebra!, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Hang on! That is not a zebra!, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

He wasn’t quite sure about Zimba’s painting, but when he realised it wasn’t a zebra, he ran off trunk whistling to warn his small family resting nearby in the shade.

Staying in the shade, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Staying in the shade, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

They really couldn’t care less. Wow, this is such radical behaviour. Things that make me go ‘mmhh’.?

Another herd rushing to the waterhole, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Another herd rushing to the waterhole, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A well constructed Hyde was located at ‘Tsau Waterhole’. Sitting up high and with Zimba out off sight, I watched this elephant herd arriving at steady pace to these cooling waters.

Cooling off, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Cooling off, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

No time wasted to spray their backs and to roll in the mud by the young ones.

The youngster enjoyed the mud, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The youngster enjoyed the mud, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

This is always a sight for sore eyes.

With a little help, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

With a little help, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The youngsters were helped out of the slippery slope and the herd moved on a few meters.

Next stop, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Next stop, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Literally, the same scenario happened there.

Sepia reflections, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Sepia reflections, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A few sips of water,

Another mud bath, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Another mud bath, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

whilst the youngsters disappeared in the muddy waters.

Two trunk help, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Two trunk help, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The small ones needed everyone’s help to get out again.

Almost there, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Almost there, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The edges really are slippery.

Just about, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Just about, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

On dry land at last.

Good drinking water, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Good drinking water, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The water seems to be clearer here, elephants can be really picky if they have a better option.

Here they come, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Here they come, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

They were moving in my direction, circling this fair sized waterhole.

Checking the area, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Checking the area, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

I don’t think that they actually saw me,

A human is around here somewhere, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A human is around here somewhere, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

but they did pick up my scent, blowing right in their direction.

Turning the back at me, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Turning the back at me, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Rather calm they passed me one by one,

Running in circles, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Running in circles, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

not too far away from me.

Youngsters smiley faces, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Youngsters smiley faces, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The young ones sure had a big grin on their faces. So did I, watching them pass. Just too cute.

Family gathering, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Family gathering, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Eventually, they reached the man-made, drilled waterhole. This is where the freshest water is found. Clearly seen, they all enjoyed drinking this water most.

Trunk full off water, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Trunk full off water, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

One youngster took a trunk full too much and spilt some water.

Bitch slapped, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Bitch slapped, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

He got a slap from mom straight away. I couldn’t believe to witness that. ‘Don’t waste that precious water’! How amusing.

A well designed well, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A well designed well, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

These wells are almost an elephant proof design.

The first on the well, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The first on the well, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Long enough for many to drink from, not too wide and separated in different compartments, for no one to get or fall in. Small ones however…!

Trunk flexing in the mirror, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Trunk flexing in the mirror, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

The slapped one showed off his trunk acrobatics in the mirror, whilst the rest moved on.

Elephant step dance, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Elephant step dance, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

A little young and old stepdance duo ended this very amusing drinking session.

Relaxed walk in to the bush, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

Relaxed walk into the bush, Khaudum National Park, Namibia

At least they weren’t running off. 

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