Elephants are probably my favourite animal - if I had to name one. All are of interest in Africa, and not just the predictable big five. I have learned more about elephants on this trip to Africa than on any of my others - perhaps because I have had more time on this trip to ask questions, but also because the guides at one camp, The Hide in Zimbabwe's Hwange national Park, were exceptional in both their enthusiasm and the depth of their knowledge. As we arrived a few days ago, it was the close of the animal census.
Two volunteers had sat counting the number of elephant that came to the Hide's large waterhole. At the end of the count, there were 452 visitors the waterhole. We saw the last bunch, arriving in family groups of 12 to 15 to 25 at a time. A truly amazing sight. The oldest in each group would signal to the rest of the family when it was time to go with a deep, chest rumble that can travel for hundreds of metres, if not kilometres. Once one group moved off, another magically appeared out of the gloom and sploshed into the water. The babies were especially neat, frolicking in the mud then flicking dust and sand onto their backs to keep the bugs off.
|One of several in a herd feeding on the banks of the Chobe river. A water safari from a small six-seat tinny is a great way to creep up on wildlife - elephants and especially small birds.|
|A younger elephant leads the way as the family negotiate a narrow strip of |
land surrounded by the Chobe river.