An Elephant Did What???
I love the quiet nights in Africa...the waiting and wondering as tiny noises give us a hint of what might be behind the tree, in the bush...or way down the road. On Tuesday evening, July 21st, a lot of us were doing just that, watching the cams, wondering if we’d get to see a critter before we gave in to the need for sleep.
Someone heard a slight noise, but it was dismissed by most of the watchers since a lot of us think we hear something simply because we’re wishing we did. Within a few short minutes, in the middle of the silence, just to the left of the camera the left front leg of a rather large elephant appeared. He walked right up the camera as if he had a purpose and appeared to look right at us all.
Silence was greeted by ooh’s and ah’s as we all realized the elephant had given us no warning, had snuck in like a thief in the night and was now right there, as close as he could be to the cam without knocking the tree down. But within just a few seconds, the atmosphere changed. While we thought we were going to just get a nice close up of the elephant, Mr. Elly had a completely different agenda.
We heard him playing around with the cam box on the tree...metal banging sounds as he ran his trunk around it and pulled and moved it, discovering what the odd looking thing was that he figured was growing on that dead tree. He reached up and touched the camera, and in his exploration he moved the camera, giving us a distorted view of the surroundings.
It was then that Mr. Elly seemed to change his mind about things. He almost stood still for a bit, while we were left starring into the blackness that the camera was now focused on. And then he reminded us why it can be so dangerous to be in the way if an elephant gets an attitude. With a quick reach and a strong pull, the elephant pushed and pulled on the camera as if he was determined to yank it down.
At first we thought Mr. Elly’s antics were all in jest, but soon realized if he pulled just a little harder, we’d have wires torn and the camera crushed beneath his feet. A rather expensive temper tantrum was about to happen. Ah...but in the distance we heard the sound of a vehicle...the NK calvary was on the way.
Clapping and banging, hollering and more clapping soon had Mr. Elly backing away, but not without his opinion. He trumpeted bravely as if to tell the rangers “I’ll go now, but only because I choose to.”
Once sure that the elephant was gone, the rangers got out and inspected the damage, mumbling with concern and an occasional gasp that could be heard as the brave fellows tried to assess the evil doings of Mr. Elly. The put the camera back as best they could and piled back into the jeep with plans of returning come daylight to fix up the elephant mauled camera.
We were left with a cockeyed view, that had excellent lighting by the way, and watched as a jackal wandered through appearing to wander up a steep hill thanks to Mr. Elly’s camera rearrangement. The fellows at the lodge quickly did what they could and had the view almost normal for us once again...sealing the end of the episode.
Within minutes the waterhole was back to its nighttime mystery...and we were once again left to wait and wonder. We did find ourselves wondering what it was that had made the elephant upset, and heard rumor that he had already been up by the lodge upsetting the nightlife there. Perhaps he was in musth; perhaps he was mad at his wife...who knows. But whatever it was, it provided us with a few minutes of unbelievable footage, a bit of laughter, and a whole lot of relief knowing he didn’t destroy our beloved camera on that old dead tree.
Keep watching; you never know what lies behind that old scruffy bush or that tree that’s lost its leaves. It’s always a mystery during the night in Africa....