Run…… Lizzards!

This morning we were treated to an interesting and quite a rare sighting of Elephants interacting with Monitor lizards at a waterhole. It all started with Elephants drinking water near to Monitor lizard’s basking in the sun on some rocks on the waters’ edge.

Two young Elephant bulls noticed them and started splashing water at them and making short trumpeting charges, time and again sending the lizards diving into the water. At one stage the lizards surfaced very close to the elephants and they both got such a massive fright, that they ran away into the bush!

Who ever knew that Monitor Lizards can make Elephants scamper away like that with their tails between their legs?

This must be one of the funniest sights I have witnessed in the wild, and couldn’t help but smile every time I replay this comical incident in my mind.

Westley Lombard

Ranger – Kapama Main Lodge

Elephants!!!!

I am asked quite often if and how we interfere with the welfare and lives of the animals we view on game drive. The simplest answer is no, we let nature to nature, but that is not always the case. Recently our large bull elephant got into somewhat of a tussle with a wandering neighbor bull. Subsequently his right tusk was broken. Now, elephants “in the wild” also fight, also break their tusks, and when nature is left to nature they may survive from such an injury or they may die a rather gruesome death from infection. Because our animals are in our wild, they are a part of our family, and are an investment of Kapama Private Game Reserve, when some thing like this occurs we step in.

Instead of letting this particular bull get a rather nasty infection in and around the broken shaft of his former tusk, and thus going crazy from pain and infection, we brought in a vet. We darted him and smoothed out the ragged edges so that infection would not occur. I was lucky enough to be a part of the darting along with two other rangers from River Lodge, two rangers from Main Lodge, Oom Paul from Camp Jabulani, and other Kapama personnel. We tracked and found him easily enough. The vet darted him using a mixture that is the equivalent of a dosage of morphine able to kill humans. He wandered for about 100 meters and then passed out. We checked his vitals. Supplied a stick to keep his trunk passage open, and made sure to poor generous amounts of water over his body, particularly his ears, so he stayed as cool and calm as possible.

The whole operation took about three hours. After which he was given an antidote to the sedative and as we sat silently watching, he rolled to his feet, looked around, and slowly meandered off. (One is want to muse if the bull was thinking, “what a strange dream I just had….”) Three nights later my guests and I watched him nonchalantly eating and walking, going about his normal elephant business, safe and healthy. It is not every day that we as rangers get to assist in such a fun, fantastic adventure and learning experience; it definately re-news your love of the bush!

Story by: Noelle Di Lorenzo- Kapama River Lodge Ranger