The Sound of Silence

This morning on drive we encountered a beautiful herd of African elephant right close to the edge of the road. The elephant took their time crossing the road and we watched them for a total of about 20 minutes as they did so. What amazes me when I watch these gentle giants is how they can be so quiet and yet so noisy at the same time. The elephant has got a special sponge-like pad in the feet below the toes and this helps the elephant to be exceptionally quiet when they walk. These sponge-like pads act as shock absorbers aiding the elephant in ascending embankments and negotiating narrow pathways. The noises these animal produce is not actually directly from them. When elephant walk they often feed at the same time. Elephant are very powerful and magnificent animals with enormous strength that very few trees can withstand. If an elephant cannot reach the very top nutritional leaves of a particular tree they will simply push the entire tree over. This act is naturally very noisy with the breaking of branches and the crashing of the tree itself. Although you do not hear the animal itself you will most certainly hear the destruction that follows it. As a ranger this is also often the method we would use to locate the elephants in the first place. Using the echo of noise of breaking trees is an obvious give away as to the elephants’ exact location.

John

2011/12/17

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