It was a bit harder to find photos that described the subject of this week’s Photo Challenge by WordPress. Would love to hear what you think about my choice.
This might seem like an unlikely pairing – elephants and cape buffalo – but these two of the Big Five animals – the rhino, leopard and lion are the others — didn’t seem to mind sharing the same watering hole.
When the alarm went off on our last morning at Makalolo Plains, none of us wanted to get out of bed. The hot water bottles that had kept us warm when we snuggled under the covers the night before were no match for the cold that had now permeated our tent.
I buried my head under the covers, lifting it just long enough to peek at the clock to figure out how long I had before I had to get ready for breakfast.
It wasn’t long. Soon, we could hear footsteps on the boardwalk and Godfrey’s knock on our door.
We dressed quickly. Cynthia and Tracey were in the Main Hall and greeted us as we arrived. Following breakfast, we said tearful goodbyes while Godfrey and Emmanuel loaded our suitcases into the jeep.
The previous day, one of the Makalolo team had offered to fly us to the airport but we had too much luggage – 6 pieces among us – to accept. Gosh, it would have been lovely to fly back instead of being bundled up as we were. As even with the fleece ponchos and several layers of warm clothes, scarves and gloves we had on were no match for the bone chilling cold.
By the time we arrived at the Main Camp, Sandra said she couldn’t feel her face. None of us could. We were frozen. Thankfully Godfrey had brought tea and biscuits as usual which we ate while he and Reason, our new driver, loaded up our suitcases into his van.
Leaving Makalolo had been emotional but more experiences awaited us in Cape Town and Durban.
On our last full day in camp, Judith and I were resting in the lounge after lunch. I looked out at Hwange National Park and noticed a jet black line in the distance. I wasn’t sure what it was and asked Emmanuel, one of the Makalolo Plains team.
“Buffalo,” he said, not missing a beat.
Along with the lion, leopard, elephant and rhinoceros, the African or cape buffalo is one of the so-called Big Five animals. This was the first and only time we would see them.
When Godfrey arrived, I pointed in the distance. Rubbing his hands together, he announced excitedly, “Buffalo! Wherever there’s buffalo, there will be elephants and zebras, and one or two lions hiding in the grass. Let’s go quickly so we can see them!”
Shortly after we started out on our morning drive on the second day at Hwange National Park, we came across a jackal that had just made a kill. It looked up as we approached. From where we had stopped, we could hear the bones breaking as he chomped down on his breakfast. Godfrey thought it probably had been a bird.
Not long after we left the jackal, Sandra spotted an elephant just as it materialized from the bush a few yards from our jeep. Godfrey stopped so we could take her photo. We were so focused on taking photos that we didn’t see another elephant, probably her child or family member, across the path until Sandra called our attention to it.
By the time we shifted our attention to the other elephant, the mother had spread her ears so wide, she looked massive. I thought it was an impressive display and a wonderful photo opportunity until Sandra said it was how elephants intimidate a predator or rival. Since elephants are not famous for good eyesight, I’m not sure which she perceived us to be. Continue reading “Three Black Girlz on Safari: Elephants at the Watering hole, II”→
With 30,000 elephants in Hwange National Park, it wasn’t whether we would see any, but when and how many.
As the sun came down on our first game drive, cold and blackness overtook us immediately. Dixon pulled out his infrared flashlight to make it easier to spot the animals that had become invisible to us.
We were following the flashlight as it darted from side to side, and complaining, through chattering teeth about how cold it had become when we saw what looked like small beads floating on dusty brown mounds directly ahead. Dixon stopped abruptly. I was shocked when the jeep’s headlights illuminated two elephants — they seemed to have just come out of nowhere. Dixon shone the flashlight at them but before they backed away, one shook its head as if were annoyed at being disturbed.
I was a little unnerved at how close we came. It was our first day and our first time being that close and it brought home the fact that in this world, we were the intruders.
After that first night, we’d see elephants every time we went on a drive. And as days passed, we got better at spotting them even when they appeared to be hiding among the grass or seemed to blend into the foliage. Since it was difficult to see them at night, I’m absolutely certain that we missed many more than we saw.
Despite their size — African elephants can weigh between 5,000 and 14,000 pounds and are about 8 feet tall — they’re gentle animals. A herd could be approaching and you wouldn’t hear their footsteps. It surprised me to discover that.
They’re also very playful. It’s a treat watching them with their babies, or playing with others in the herd. It was always fun watching them at the watering hole.