Sarah and Karen from Germany made a good choice by spending the day with us in Addo. After heavy rains in Addo Elephant National Park, it is no secret that game viewing can be a bit slow as secondary water holes, deep within the bush, fill up which leaves many animals with no desire to make the journey to water holes along the roads and view points.
Evidently though, we realised 50 meters into the park that Mother Nature was on our side with giving us a graceful looking young bull along the roadside. A few hours into the park, and after a healthy amount of plains game viewing, we came across a mother Elephant with her two youngsters. Being a firm believer in patience in the bush brings good luck. We decided to hang tight for about 40 min or so. Out of nowhere, through the lush thicket, came two herds of Elephant to quench their thirst at the waterhole 5meters from our vehicle. With nowhere to move, we had no option but to sit tight and watch this movement of giants take place. 4 big Bulls within 30 cm of the vehicle stood tall making their observations of us.
The second herd made their way towards the vehicle with an even bigger bull that was in full blown musth making a straight line directly towards our bullbar on the front of the vehicle. He must have weighed in at around 12 000 pounds of pure testosterone. Knowing a bit about the nature of the Addo Elephants I weighed up an educated guess that he would walk by the vehicle. Bare in mind that a Elephant bull in musth has a 6 times higher level of testosterone running through his blood than normal. The big boy decided to let us be and walked 30 cm along side the vehicle looking down at us from his head that was about 3,5 meters high. The bone chilling stench of semen and urine filled the inside air spaces of the cruiser and was enough to get my blood pumping and chilled the bones a bit. Any Wildlife Guide that has spent a bit of time in the Bush knows that this smell is best avoided as the origin of it means business!
This was Karens’ first ever Elephant sighting and I know, without a doubt in my mind, that it will be a long lasting memory for all that shared it. They just don’t get better than this!
Words and photograph by Luke