It is the end of the dry winter period. Huge thunderstorms are rearing up at the end of each day. Bathed in the light of the setting sun. Some just resulting in a spectacular lightening show but just a few spots of rain. The occasional storm drenching a strip of parched land as it sweeps across the park. Sill most of the river beds appear dry except for a few pools. These reduced to bath water and buffalo wallows. The elephants however know that clean water is just below the surface of these sandy river beds. They dig holes and drink from the filtered water that seeps in.
We found this loan bull elephant wetting itself down at one of the ‘bathing’ pools. We had time for a few shots before it climbed out of the river bed and headed for a dust pan. Fortunately the river loop road gave us a perfect view as the huge bull dusted down.
It vacuumed up the dust and blasted it at its damp skin. Head, back, legs, underneath, every part got a coating. So for all budding wildlife artists out there: What colour is an elephant! Light and dark grey, silver when wet and vast range of colours from first wet and then dry earth. Elephant sunscreen and insect protection comes in a vast range of colours.
The relatively small eyes are shrouded by course eye lashes that collect crusty lumps of mud. This prompting me to wonder, is the poor vision of elephants is actually the result of these muddy curtains.
There where pauses in the dusting. A few kicks at the ground to accumulate more dust. The tip of the trunk occasionally rising to delicately plucks crusty irritating dirt from the eyes. The effort of the process, the huge weight of the trunk also prompts regular rest. Back legs crossed and the trunk draped over stumps of the once mighty tusks to reduce the load on its face.
The huge trunk must weigh hundreds of kilograms. It’s used to lift, push and drag down trees. Strip bark and leaves of thorny branches. Wrestle other bulls for mating rights. However on noticing a small stick in the soon to be vacuumed dust it delicately plucks it up and flicks it aside. Control of the mighty trunk mastered over time. Control that new born elephants take time to learn. Until then their trunks flip uncontrollably.
After the big guy finished his dust bath he casually wandered over to our car. Close enough to fog our windscreen if it hadn’t bee so hot! Checked out our faces to see if we were suitably impressed. Accepted our open mouthed response to his huge bulk towering over our hire car and decided not to play stompy with us! I like elephants!