Some moments in the African bush are engraved into my memory. These moments are usually fleeting, a chase, a kill, a glimpse of my favorite animal after hours/days of looking. They can be slightly longer, a coffee at sunrise, a giraffe drinking or watching monkeys playing. We were fortunate enough to experience a few unforgettable moments in Etohsa but one that really stands out are the three old bulls making their way down to drink at the Okaukuejo waterhole.
Not long after setting off on our evening game drive we spotted these 3 big guys in the distance. We took a few pics but it was very hot and they were moving very slowly. An hour or so later (after a very successful game drive – another story another time) we rushed back to camp to find these guys right outside the camp entrance. We were camped next to water and knew where they were headed. They needed to walk around the camp to get to the waterhole and I knew I could get really close to them as the camp was essentially square and in their way. I rushed out to the furthest most remote part of the campsite to find them slowly making their way towards me. Slowly they emerged from the bush and walked directly toward me. I unsuccessfully tried to balance my camera on the fence but was running out of time. No problem. I’ll just hold it I thought… I stuck my arm though the fence (not wanting to get any fence in the pic) and played with the focus until they were only a few feet away. When I looked up from my camera I realized their size…they were enormous. With only a wire fence and a few weathered wooden poles between us I knew these slops were not going to get me out of there…My only option was to take a step backward and stand dead still.
One by one they walked past me and shook their heads in disapproval. They knew I was there but I believe their thirst was too great to pay any real attention to me.
To be acknowledged by these gentle giants as they walk these ancient paths to water is a memory I’ll never forget.
With an estimated 100 African elephants slaughtered each day, who knows how long the remaining 400,000 be around…
“Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.”- Dr. Seuss