We hear the ripping and crunching of vegetation coming out of the darkness somewhere beneath the breathing of the sea. The opening in the coastal forest is hardly visible, a half-moon and handful of stars fading in and out among a scattering of wispy clouds. Flashes of lightening from some far-off inland storm paint the night landscape with a faint spark of illuminance.
Luanne was first to see the moving black shadow appear at the edge of the clearing, a sweeping trunk prodding like a blindman’s cane leading a set of tree-trunk legs. We watched it for nearly an hour, enhanced by Andrew’s night-vision, infra-red binoculars, before we turn on an outdoor spotlight. Turning in surprise, the elephant soon adjusts to the new illumination and resumes feeding on the palm leaves and grasses in the clearing. Little insect-eating bats dart low between the few trees in pursuit of a meal while larger fruit bats sail through the glare of spotlight. In the distance, a mangabey coughs a warning call, an occasional bird warbles out of a disturbed slumber, and crickets thick in the trees electrify the night air with a cacophony of rattle and buzz.