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Elephants Never Forget – Will We?

“The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?”

David Attenborough

Last week two unrelated friends told me that they are headed to Africa on safari.  It took me back to my own safari experience several years ago.  In the past decade, my husband and I have traveled to many amazing places.  But of all our adventures, my favorite without question was Africa.  We spent three weeks surrounded by the most incredible wild animals, all of whom were for the most part totally disinterested in us.  Lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, gazelles, impalas, hyenas, monkeys, zebras, giraffes, water buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, rhinos, elands, sables…we saw them all. We also saw a myriad of birds both beautiful and bizarre.  Every moment, and every sighting, was awe-inspiring; as was the enormous, star-filled African sky.  But it was the elephants, hundreds of them, that took my breath away.

I was amazed at how their emotions seemed to so closely resemble our own.  They were loving….

AFFECTION - ELEPHANT STYLE
AFFECTION – ELEPHANT STYLE
ELEPHANT HUG
ELEPHANT HUG

Playful….

ROCK TOY
ROCK AND ROLL

Caring and protective of their young……

MAMA AND BABY
MAMA AND CALF

ALWAYS hungry…..

FEED THE NEED
FEED THE NEED

And seemingly, always offering interesting poses for our lenses.

THREE BY THE WATER
NO BUTTS ABOUT IT
ELEPHANT PRISONERS
ELEPHANTS IN PRISON STRIPES

African elephants are the world’s largest land mammal, and are fond of water, often spraying themselves to the delight of the photographers.

DRINKING, PLAYING OR COOLING OFF?  ALL THREE!
ELEPHANT HYDRATION

Besides spraying, their trunks can be used for smelling, drinking, breathing, trumpeting, and grabbing things. When they swim under water their trunks provide a convenient snorkel.

TURNING TRUNK
TWISTING THE TRUNK

They carry their babies for almost 2 years before giving birth – and their calves weigh 200+ pounds – YIKES.

CALF AT PLAY
PLAYFUL CALF

Elephants can be their own worst enemies, destroying their diminishing habitat in order to feed themselves and their families.  This combined with human encroachment and continued poaching for their ivory tusks has made them a focus for conservation efforts around the world.  We can only hope that these efforts succeed; the world would be a lesser place without these gentle giants.  There was a story this year about elephant preservationist Lawrence Anthony, who worked among them for many years.  When he died it is said that the herd he worked with walked for three days to reach his home, and spent two days there mourning his loss.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

NATURE'S MASTERPIECE
NATURE’S MASTERPIECE

 “Nature’s great masterpiece, the elephant, the only harmless great thing.” 

John Donne

Note:  All photos taken with Nikon D/50 and Nikkor 70-200mm lens

  1. Affection Elephant Style – 180mm, F/4.8, 1/125, ISO 800
  2. Elephant Hug – 120mm, f/4.8, 1/125, ISO 640
  3. Rock and Roll – 200mm, f/2.8, 1/800, ISO 200
  4. Mama and Calf – 190mm, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO 200
  5. Feed the Need – 340mm, f/4.8, 1/640, ISO 200 *
  6. No Butts About It – 130mm, f/5, 1/400, ISO 400
  7. Elephants in Prison Stripes – 180mm, f/2.8, 1/40, ISO 800
  8. Elephant Hydration – 135mm, f/2.8, 1/640, ISO 200
  9. Twisting the Trunk – 135mm, f/2.8, 1/800, ISO 200
  10. Playful Calf – 340mm, f/4.8, 1/800, ISO 200 *
  11. Nature’s Masterpiece – 340mm, f/4.8, 1/60, ISO 640 *

* Lens extended using Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E

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24 thoughts on “Elephants Never Forget – Will We? Leave a comment

  1. Tina, a must read… I’m starting it now… Modoc: a true story of the Greatest Elephant that ever lived ., by Ralph Helfer published 1998. These pictures almost bring tears…so beautiful! And I love my book that you did from Africa.

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