Majestic Elephants

Elephants in Tarangire National Park

One of my favorite mammals have always been the elephant and I was in for a real surprise in how many we saw throughout the trip. One of the best experiences I was able to have was when 13 elephants walked right in front of our vehicle our first day in Tarangire National Park. One coming so close I could have reached out and touched it as it passed the back of the vehicle. As you can see in the photo below, I also had my GoPro setup as the procession of elephants passed us. I’ll upload the video once I’m able to edit it upon arrival back home. 
Elephant and GoPro setup

We saw well over 200 elephants during our 2 week safari and at one time we saw over 70 in one group as the migrated in the Serengeti. The photo below is just a small portion of the 70 we saw in this migration.

Migrating Elephants in Serengeti

One thing I was surprised about with Elephants is how they eat Acacia Trees, thorns and all. The Acacia Tree has a very hard thorn and the Elephant will tear them apart and uproot them as I saw on many occasions throughout the trip. You will see trees pulled over as the Elephants do whatever it takes to get to the highest leaves. Having over 40,000 muscles in their trunk, they use their brute force to snap these trees like twigs.

Whistling Thorn Tree and Ants

But there is one saving grace for the tree to protect themselves, this is with the cooperation of Ants on the Whistling Thorn Tree, also an Acacia tree. The Ants build little abodes about the size of a small marble and when the tree is disturbed, the ants all get to work and come out and crawl up the nose of an Elephant and bite them. The longer the Elephant stands there, the more they will be bitten.

Elephant Close Up

I was surprised how close we were able to get to an elephant or even groups of them for that matter. We would stay at tented camps some nights and there was always the possibility of them walking next to your tent at night to feed.

As the trip progressed we saw so many elephants that after awhile we didn’t even stop to enjoy them as the were so numerous. We also saw a couple of dead elephants and Gabby explained as they get older, their teeth wear down and they are no longer able to survive on their normal diet, having to look for softer food. Eventually they succumb due to a lack of food.

We estimated seeing well over 200 during our safari and below are just a few of my favorite images of those that we stopped for.

Elephant in Tarangire National Park

Elephant with hole in ear This Elephant had a large hole in his ear and the only guess was maybe getting it caught on a stick of some sort. Since is was located in a national park, the idea that it was a bullet wound was very remote.

Elephant and an Acacia Tree

This elephant was eating an Acacia tree and a few moments later he pulled half the tree down to get to the higher leaves.

Elephant taking a bath in the Serengeti

Elephants taking a bath

One day we came upon a river and were watching the hippos as they wallowed in the river. We then heard some noise in the brush across the river and out walk three elephants who decided to take a bath. The hippos gave way and shared the river with them without creating a commotion. Something they are unable to do with each other as they become very territorial for their perfect spot.

Elephants at Tarangire Lodge

One day when we were at the Tarangire Lodge, two elephants just walked up to the hotel and started foraging for food. There were even some people who were sunbathing by the pool who were a bit surprised.

Here is a video, sorry its a bit shaky and not focused. I forgot to put my Fuji X-E1 into manual focus mode and its tough to shoot video with that camera.

So if elephants are a favorite of yours, then you really need to make it to Africa to see them in their natural environment. Who knows, they might even join you at your hotel.


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