strong>Today is World Elephant Day and we have chosen a variety of elephant images to celebrate these magnificent creatures!
The first 20 or so images (with relevant captions and any relative conservation information below each photo) celebrate their beauty while further on we look at some of the negative conservation issues surrounding their huge declines across Africa. So scroll down and enjoy some of the special moments captured here. With regard to the last few images – while it is not great to see these images of poached elephants it is very necessary to show them – if we turn a blind eye to it and don’t accept it…those that have the power to make a difference cannot do anything if they are unaware of what is going on!
Having this elephant mock charge my vehicle in northern Botswana was an absolute treat…if you want to see elephants, Botswana is one of the best places in Africa to view these gentle giants.
This young elephant was only a couple of hours old…we got to the sighting just after it was born and we watched for many hours as it slowly got to its feet and was introduced to the rest of the herd…
An elephant lines his trunk up perfectly with the setting sun! He was actually playing with some mud in a little wallow and then started putting his trunk up in the air! The thick dust at this time of year allowed for a strange photograph of the sun!
Elephants are giants but still the mighty Baobab tree dwarfs the world’s largest land mammal!
Here two bulls make their way across a flooded area in the middle of the Okavango delta, feeding on some aquatic vegetation as they move slowly through the swampland.
‘Land of Giants’ …elephants and Baobabs…what more could you ask for than a view like this??…a herd of elephants make their way into a place of safety after drinking in the Chobe River.
This is not a picture of elephants on canvas but is in fact a photo I took of some elephants through a viewing window at a sunken hide!
Elephants feed along the Savuti Channel in the days that it used to be full of water…here a calm scene unfolds as some good rains approach to signal the end of the dry season!
…and still at my ‘office’ at the sunken hide…what a pleasure it is to live with these beasts!
Some back-lit elephants for sunset…they were loving kicking up the dust and having a last feed of the day before moving on into the great untamed Okavango wilderness.
A herd of elephants drink close to the Savuti Marsh…this part of the channel no longer has water and so the great herds have moved to new desirable locations…seeing the marsh in the dry season with water has to be one of the greatest spectacles Africa has to offer! This can be backed up by the shear number of elephants that frequented the marsh back then.
Over the years and in my time in the field I have photographed 7 elephants with deformed back legs…I have asked many people including experts what they think the cause is…is it malnutrition related or is it something else? One of the most interesting answers that I have heard on more than one occasion is that this occurs when they break their legs during birth (by falling from a great height)…perhaps it is the case but what ever it is it certainly seems to hamper their movements…having said that, this one was a good age so perhaps something else caused this!
I really enjoyed this elephant’s attitude…a little cheeky but overall more inquisitive than anything else!
This is one of my favourite shots…certainly my best sunset shot and a beautiful sunset in the Okavango with elephants in the foreground…what more could one ask for? Will never forget this moment!! Perhaps my best sunset ever!
I posted this recently…elephants take great exception to other wildlife getting in their way…here a buffalo bull almost pays the ultimate price! This elephant pursued him for a few minutes trying to take him out!
A recent shot as well…can never get bored of taking photos of elephants with the sun setting in the background! Here once again they were kicking up dust and feeding during the last light of the day. As darkenss fell they moved back into the bushline.
One thing to note is how amazingly gentle elephants are when they come across the bones of other elephants. It is as if they pay respects to the dead…perhaps this female elephant knew this animal…it was a young elephant that had died…perhaps it was her calf? I have seen this interaction a handful of times but I must say that on this occasion there was something more intimate going on as she spent ages investigating the bones and particularly the skull!
Here a female elephant tends to her youngster and was teaching it how to use its trunk…it was such a sweet, tender moment to watch!
Hyenas try to distract an elephant female while the rest of the clan attempts to bring down her calf. This is an incredible shot of some behaviour we have witnessed in the Linyanti over the last couple of decades and depicts some little known behaviour. Elephant adults have almost no natural enemies excepting a large pride of lions perhaps. Strong adults won’t need to fear a large pride of lions though but elephant calves on the other hand are definitely prey items for hyenas, lions and we have even recorded wild dogs and leopards trying their luck. In this instance the calf managed to escape! This photo was taken by James Weiss of ‘Eyes on Africa’…he was kind enough to let me share it!
The suns sets to end another glorious day in Africa…this paradise we see here will fade with the fading light as darkness sets in…just across from here and along the Chobe-Linyanti system we are seeing the beginning of a new elephant poaching onslaught…
WARNING – IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE PHOTOS OF POACHED ELEPHANTS – DO NOT SCROLL DOWN ANY FURTHER
The images above tell of a reality that has become all too familiar across Africa these days…elephants having their faces chopped off for tusks while their bodies get left to rot. These shots are from Southern Africa…from a population that we thought was safe…but when you get the pressure of poaching from the former Caprivi Strip like we are seeing now…these heartless criminals will do anything to get a quick buck…no it is not about putting food on the table – these are gangs of hardcore criminals involved with huge syndicates that run crime across international borders. There are people trying to do something about it but if we do not act faster and in greater numbers with some serious fire power, the most important population of wild elephants remaining in Africa will soon be decimated…already we are losing hundreds in the greater area and this is taken from direct observations in the field combined with anecdotal reports that back up what we are seeing on the ground. It is time we take action!!