elephants all around

Walking the edge of a narrow savanna late in the afternoon I was alerted to a sudden ripping and snapping in the forest to my right.  Sounding not unlike elephants feeding on lianas forty meters into the forest,  I looked for cover while I figured their direction.  With the sounds moving closer, I soon spotted the shadows of four elephants making their way from forest onto savanna.  They crossed the savanna into the adjacent forest too quickly for me to find a position for a clear picture.  Having at least a kilometer yet to walk before reaching two camera traps, I continued on when the sounds of their movement faded into the deep shadows.

Bull elephant on a forest trail in the night.

Changing batteries and memory cards in the gloom of a forest trail, I returned to savanna and discovered what were likely the same four elephants feeding in forest vegetation, now on the other side of the savanna.  Finding cover once again, I waited for the elephants to move to the forest edge, whereupon two of the elephants decided to approach directly to my position, unaware of my presence.  Behind me, an elephant trail led into the forest.  This would be my escape route should they continue in my direction.  Fortunately, they picked up my scent soon onto the savanna and with trunks waving wildly they turned, fleeing back into the forest.

Two elephants cross a savanna in beautiful evening light.

The thrill of watching elephants in the wild never seems to grow old.  Perhaps it is the unpredictability of their behavior that fuels the adrenaline, focussing attention to the immediate right of now.

A slow exposure turns the back of an elephant into a swirl of motion.

Two additional elephants were recorded on the camera traps over the past week, along with a large sitatunga.  Both elephants were aware of the camera and reacted with curiosity and surprise.  Not sure if it is a sound of exposure, or the light of infra-red flash, or a smell that alerts the elephants to the camera.  Their senses of smell and hearing are especially acute.  Regardless, it has created some unusual confrontations.

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