Monday, 6 December 2010

memories of chobe safari

This is the elephant in the room.

This wonderful animal plodded gently through the brush of what is part of Botswana's Chobe National Park. It quietly approached our vehicle with outstretched trunk sensing the air, sniffing for smell of threat. Our driver and guide, Lucky, had told us not to speak, not to make a sound or sudden movement. We could easily scare this elephant although we were all petrified in any case and it may well feel threatened and therefore charge. It's eyesight being bad as with all elephants it had to come close to investigate and once it was positioned in front of us, I felt able to take this shot of the right eye.

Look deep within it. Such a lovely brown. Soft and almost welcoming perhaps. Trusting.

She stood close and still for a few moments and then slowly moved off. All the while several other elephants had passed by, on both sides of our vehicle. Some ignoring us, some stopping momentarily and sniffing for scent, others to pull vegetation with a trunk's end and a snap of the root. Others had no sense of concern and crashed noisily through the trees and brush, and in between the legs of some the smallest and less sure footed babies stumbled, vainly making a grab for mum's tail.

I didn't time how long we sat there quietly watching as elephants from several matriarchal groups passed us by, but as we independently counted in small groups we agreed between us that we had been passed by a few thousand. A small fraction of the 140,000 odd that live in Botswana.

A most beautiful country and long may it be so.
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