During elephant research in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park the team came across a downed elephant being watched over by a companion.
Tag Archives: elephants
It's our first elephant research session and we're supposed to be gathering census information on them, but it's like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. How does 7,000 kilos of pachyderm hide itself so effectively?
On a nightly basis our room was literally abuzz with activity. Silence the noisy fan from pushing hot, Zambian air in circles over our bodies and you’d hear a lizard scurrying behind the dresser. Turn on the light and one, if not several, rain spiders would freeze in silence on the ceiling, carefully watching us with their many eyes. I was always happy to see our roommates because it meant I knew where they were and so didn't have to worry where they weren't, unlike some of the other creatures that came party crashing into what was called the White House.
Rubbing my eyes and trying to will myself awake while the line slowly creeps forward I look across the people gathered with us in the terminal. That's when I notice the hunting rifle cases. It suddenly dawns on me that we’re about to board a flight on our way to Africa to once again volunteer in the name of lion conservation, alongside a group of men who will be traveling there in the hopes of shooting a lion, if not several.
You either get the point of Africa or you don't. If you can't get past the fear of animals, of poverty, the juggernaut of nature, then you probably won't. But if you do stand in it and smell it and listen to it, then it will be one of the biggest, most profound and powerful things you will ever feel.
Although I left my heart in Africa last year a part of it now resides in Thailand, a country I've never been to, as I follow the day-to-day progression of events at two internationally respected wildlife sanctuaries. The Elephant Nature Park (ENP), and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), have been repeatedly raided by armed government officials from the Department of National Parks (DNP) in what appears to be retaliatory actions for statements made by ENP and WFFT decrying the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand, and the Thai government's suspected complicity.
A list of some, but by no means all, of the many animals we were lucky enough to witness while in Africa, and even luckier to recall.
We haven't seen a family pride yet - until now. Camouflaged within the grass we see some movement, and then one by one a whole family appears: one male, two females, and eight beautiful cubs! Craig reflexively eeowws at the little cubs, and one of the younger ones eeowws back and starts heading towards the truck. I turn to Craig and say, "I'm calling them the Honeymoon Pride!"
Craig and I acknowledge that there are some things here that we're not entirely happy about, and there are some things that are just simply different from what we've known these past couple of weeks. But that was the point of this part of our trip. It wasn't meant to be the same as the first part of our trip; it was meant to be intentionally different. We're settling into a groove here at Elephant Plains: outstanding wildlife viewing, delicious food, a luxurious room, spa treatments. Really, what's not to like?
This is the part of the story where I'd like to say that I spent the night dreaming of lions. That King Milo came to see me, and beside the river outside our tent, amidst the roars of the other lions in his kingdom, we sat and talked about a great many things. Secrets that the wind has shared with him that he's now sharing with me.