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Elephants - Big (but friendly) in Ulusaba

Updated: May 20

In Ulusaba Game Reserve in South Africa you can find some of the most approachable elephants anywhere. Now I'm NOT saying these are tame elephants. No, they are truly wild elephants and you definitely do not want to get TOO close. But in many places in Africa, the elephants have been hunted (either legally or illegally - think poaching) and elephants do have a good memory so are very leery of humans.

Now you really can't blame them, can you? If you had been shot at by these two-legged creatures, you'd be leery too. But here in Ulusaba it's been many decades since any were shot so the elephants are simply curious about us, not really afraid.

This particular day we were on our morning game drive enjoying the beautiful weather and the great variety of animals. We stopped in a small clearing to stretch our legs and have our morning coffee and cookies. As we stood around our Range Rover and sipped our coffee, some of us needed to find a nearby bush and see what was

on the other side - perhaps it needed a wee bit more water this morning. As one of our friends was busy with this particular morning activity, he heard some rustling of leaves and breaking of branches behind him, so he quickly finished and hurried back over to the truck. (I didn't check, but I think he took the time to zip back up).

When he informed the ranger of the activities (the rustling and breaking, that is), the ranger told us that it was the same elephants we had seen earlier in the drive. They were walking slowly our way, munching on the leaves and limbs from the nearby trees. They came within about fifty yards of us, so our ranger thought we should walk over and get a little closer, but only after he loaded his rifle with some really big shells, just in case.

I have to tell you, it's hard to describe the majesty of these magnificent wild creatures. As you come close to them on foot, you have a real appreciation of how large and powerful they are. The larger of the two stretched his trunk high into the tree probably twenty-five or thirty feet to reach the three- or four-inch-thick branch he wanted and then without any effect whatsoever, snapped it off and proceeded to munch on it.

The elephants certainly saw us and were keeping a close eye on us, but as long as we kept our distance, we didn't bother them one bit. Of course, it might be that they simply knew that with one swipe of a trunk or one stomp of a foot, we would be history. Kind of puts in in your place, doesn't it?

(click on pictures to enlarge and scroll)

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