I have experienced many special moments with elephants over the years. See also the blog stories about Babylon our acquaintance in 2008 and the close friendship that arose afterwards where she always came at me when she saw me. And after her death (she was the oldest matriarch around 58) an event that I will never forget when I ride on Gir gir plains and a young bull elephant is tearing himself away from his herd, from a very large group of elephants that came from the river.
A number of herds had met there and went en masse to the hills to spend the night there. He walked perpendicular to my jeep...the tenderness with which he put his trunk on the hood (see blog before). These are moments that give me goose bumps. But then there are those moments that are so entertaining! Like my big friend Omjango, who regularly arrives at one of my favorite tented camps when it gets dry and the greenery in the wild becomes a bit scarcer, to first shake the Doum palm tree....if that's not successful...then go to the tented kitchen of the camp...Those smells are of course irresistible... Costly. Also his stubbornness can be seen.
But so is Bamba, one of the oldest bulls and a friend for years. I park on the bush parking of a tented camp. I have an appointment with a friend from the UK and am looking forward to seeing her again. There is little space in the shade...hmmm but under the big Doum palm tree? I ask the askari... (guarding the safety of guests because of the wildlife it is not fenced) 'is this not going to be a problem with the elephants?" Because I know they like to shake that tree for the fruit... 'No should be fine' says the best man. OK?! I'm sitting at a delicious plate of salad and enjoy the stories of my friend Jane, when I hear consternation...? And we're still laughing, oh well I say: 'that will be Bamba doing something naughty'...Indeed...but I'm blissfully unaware that I'm escaping from a small disaster in no uncertain terms! A few seconds later, Jennifer appears at our table... "Monic.....she says panting: "its Bamba"...Yes? I look at her questioning... He had shaken the Doum palm tree, all fruit came down, he was going for it...but instead of walking AROUND your jeep..he thought he 'd LEAN OVER?!! Oh my God....In my mind I see Bamba hanging on my poor old jeep and the tires explode...??!! Fortunately, Jennifer helps me quickly out of the dream... (or better nightmare...). Its OK Monic.... we chased him away". Phew! Great relief, we burst into laughter... And toast to a happy ending!
When I'm having lunch in a camp where the bulls often pass by and even walk between the tables, the guests are always taken to the high veranda by the ashari's beforehand. But because I know them all so well and also their body language I am usually allowed to stay seated, or if they really come close then I am asked to get up and wait a while next to the stairs (so in quick safety if necessary) until they have walked on. That day it is 'busy' and many old friends pass by Bamba...Manny....Obama... We watch how the one slowly walks from the tables into the river, that splash and he is really enjoying himself! So I'm still sitting...when I hear the voice of the askari behind me....'monic RUUUUN'. Oops? I look through the bushes, I think it was visible to someone which bull it was (and there are also some that are less relaxed)....and I see Obama's friendly face coming through the bushes! I say relieved to the voice behind me' its sawa (ok) only Obama! And slowly get up to step back. Obama is a gentile giant and I'm sure he has no problem with me. What is always very important in olfanten especially (but also with other wild animals), is not to make sudden movements. Standing still... or walking backwards very slowly. No noise. I could tell you about elephants for hours, they are such intelligent social creatures!