You just have to love South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Would you rather have a traffic jam on your nearest city beltway or be stopped by a herd of wild elephants crossing the road to get to their favorite watering hole? C’mon, fess up!
Here we were, driving down the road in the southern section of Kruger when a bull elephant suddenly emerged from the bush. It stopped on the road, trunk on the ground to feel for the approaching family’s vibrations.
Suddenly, a mother and calf came bursting out of the brush. I stopped to watch them. The baby was reluctant to cross. While the bull stood guard, the mother crossed with the calf tucked as close as she could get. It was an incredible sight, seeing the calf constantly in physical touch with its mother for assurance. It took them a full ten minutes to cross, all of them en route to the Sabie River for their daily drink, bath and for the babies, a romp.
Just as I was about to start the car, another bull came out and stopped dead in the center of the road, again feeling for vibrations with his trunk. He waited another ten minutes and all of a sudden an entire extended family of elephants rushed to cross.
A couple of hours later, we happened to come across the same herd returning from the water. This time one of the calves separated from its mother and sensed our presence with its sensitive trunk.
In a moment the mother gathered her prodigy, tucked it under its massive bulk, and they continued across the road back to the bush for a day of foraging.
Later, about ten kilometers down the road, we found ourselves surrounded by another family. By surrounded I mean that literally. We had elephants within fifteen feet of the front, back and sides of our vehicle. At one point a matriarch let me know she did not want us so close and menacingly approached my car, ears out. I gingerly backed up and she turned and went on her way. But that’s for another blog.
What a thrill!