It’s a chilly day in the lowveld, more than what we are familiar with and the animals feel the same way. It is clear that our bush friends aren’t too fond of the cold weather and only get themselves out and about a lot later in the mornings. Luckily the lowveld sun heats up the African bush very quickly and most of the day turns out rather pleasant.
It is also at this point when after a quiet start to the drive one can start seeing the animals more in their element and behaving like we always love to see them do.
The breeding herd of elephants gave me my sighting of the day, after a few hours spent following the tracks and destruction these giants leave in the bush, we finally came across them hiding in a nice thick vegetation block, trying to find a bit of shelter before the cold air takes over for the night once again. It was round about 17:15 when we caught up with them and there was not really a lot of light left to work with. I was worried that this might have been a wasted effort as we won’t be able to get a nice sighting before the sun goes down completely….but as I have learnt before in my career, one never knows what will happen in the bush.
The elephants spent the first 5 minutes of our sighting still hiding away and only the sound of breaking branches could be heard. Before we knew it two young bulls came bashing through the thicket, dust and branches flying everywhere. Just a simple everyday play fight for the two of them, but it did spark a reaction from the rest of the family members. Suddenly the four youngsters ranging from 4 months to 7 months also came out of the thicket mimicking the two young bulls, pushing each other around and pretending to be big strong elephants. The one little fellow even decided to give us a bit of a charge, too much amusement for the guests seeing that the little guy barely exceeded the height of the vehicles’ tyre.
The thicket suddenly opened up again and the matriarch came swaying out from behind the Acacia trees. Seeing that she is the one in charge everybody else were very quick to follow her lead and a sighting of breaking branches changed in a magical view of over 20 elephants interacting, playing and having a good time in front of us.
As the sun went over the horizon, the elephants disappeared in a beautiful red and orange setting with the last bit of dust settling back onto the canvas of the African bush.
It might be chilly these days but I’m always happy to go and see what nature has in store for us. Here is to magnificent sightings to come.
Pieter Dunn – Kapama River Lodge