I first caught site of him at the tree-line in the distance looking a bit like a large white domed rock. Solid and imposing even from such a distance. Our guide, Ryan, pulled the truck over. We waited. Checking the binoculars Ryan confirmed that it is an elephant and it is moving towards us. We waited. Slowly but purposefully he made his way across the plain. We waited. As he approached he became more and more imposing. A general leading the march, alone.
The Cheeky Teens
There are elephants ahead in the brush, the Matriarch leading the way. There is a baby in tow with the rest of the family following in a rough group. They stop to sample the local fare of bushes and trees. It looks as if the matriarch is meaning to lead them across the road just ahead of our vehicle. We watch and photograph the elephants moving toward us as they tear apart the brush. They are getting close and we are right in front of the herd. Some elephants now cross to the left, then others to the right. They cross back over the road and all of a sudden we were in the middle of the herd. There are year-old babies, teenagers, bulls and the Matriarch, perhaps 15-20 elephants around us. Thrilling is an understatement.
Suddenly, a teenager jumped in front of our car and began to dance. Ears flapped, trunk swayed up and down, his legs crossed back and forth. It was as if it were Saturday night at the local high school gym, the teenage elephant leading a line dance. This large elephant dancing in front of the car was a bit more exciting than a line dance.
I felt small in our truck with towering elephants dancing around me.
Family at the Waterhole
The next night, the same herd appeared at the camp waterhole.
Kids were poking each other, the cheeky teens were sparring, and everyone else was joyfully playing the water. A huge waterhole and it was not big enough for all the elephants.
What a sight! It was a joy to watch the dynamics of the herd in the beautiful light. I fell in love with these wonderful animals during our visit to Etosha: the character of the old, the playfulness of the young, and “cheekiness of the teens”.