Of all of the animals that I loved to see at Shamwari, I think I could have sat and watched the elephants the longest. They are always doing something interesting. We were able to sit and watch as the matriarch of a large family group decided that everyone was going to start digging for roots for a snack. She initiated the dig, and soon all of the other elephants were following her lead. I had never seen an elephant dig before and it was quite fascinating to watch. I could have watched for hours her digging with her feet only 10 feet away from where I was sitting:
They are just amazing to watch. For example, take a look at this enormous dominant male we were stuck behind on a road one day. We were trying to pass him to get to the larger group of elephants just up ahead, but he wanted to toy with us. He would pretend like he was stopping to eat, and then when we would start the car up and try to pass him, he would turn and charge us head on. This game of cat and mouse or elephant and human continued for at least twenty minutes until we were finally able to pass him.
Being surrounded by large groups of elephants was unbelievable. There were many young, including a new baby elephant that was only two weeks old. That baby was always closely guarded by the adult ladies, who were much more protective in her presence. If I had to carry a baby for 22 months, I would be protective too. It brought me back to my own youthful days riding the Jungle Cruise at Disney World with my sisters. We liked the baby elephants the best, and would imitate them splashing around in our swimming pool at home. My readiness as a child to imitate baby elephants could indicate why I have always had issues with weight of some kind.
Some of the elephant youth apparently still suffered from World Cup fever. They made noises that sang out like loud vuvuzelas. In fact, I think that the origin of the vuvuzela is rightfully explained by listening to a young elephant. Obviously that is where South Africans got the idea in the first place. We always could find this one group of elephants by listening for the sound of “Baby Vuvuzela” in the distance. It was a good tell, considering elephants walk silently. I wish that I would have recorded the sound.
Also, it was fun to watch the young ones trying to figure out how to use their trunks.
These big mamas came close to us:
I loved this running baby: