My little sister was always scared to death by elephants. When we lived in East Africa, many a week-end and all school holidays meant “safari”. A swahili name that just means “trip”. And off we’d go to see lions, cheetahs, giraffes, zebra, gazelles and elephants. And Sis’ would recoil inside the car whenever my father drove too close to a pack of elephants. Or even a lone one. Above: near the most upstream part of the Nile, the Victoria Nile in Uganda, Murchison falls. c. 1969.
Elephant drinking on the Nile. If I recall correctly elephant population in Africa in the late sixties was still over 2 millions. Iain Douglas-Hamilton designed a survey method that evaluated the number of African elephants at 1.3 million in 1979.
By 1989, the number of elephants in Africa had been significantly reduced. I went back to Kenya in 1988, and indeed the herds were much smaller.
Back in ’69, at the lodge near Murchison Falls, a young wild elephant had invited itself to the hotel grounds. This and the following shots were taken from a distance of 15 ft or less. I had a brand new reflex camera and was determined not to miss a shot. 🙂
Intimidation posture. Then the elephant started walking forward to the breakfast terrace.
Passing by. Steady. Steady…
Moving away… With the Victoria Nile in the background. But then a tourist came too close, and the elephant grabbed the yellow plastic chair with its trunk and flung it at the tourist. Don’t mess with wild animals….
A solitary elephant approaching the car in Tsavo, Kenya. The elephants there are red, as they spray themselves with the red Tsavo earth to avoid parasites.
Come any closer, car or no car, and I will charge…
Elephants care for each other. The one on the left had its trunk practically severed at the root. Possibly a poacher? At any rate that elephant was mortally wounded as he could not use its trunk any more to feed itself. But it was escorted by a friend or relative until it would die.
Elephant population estimates today (well, 2007…) range between 400,000 and 690,000. Shall we say half a million? Down from more than 2 millions. Poaching is the only cause. Poaching for ivory despite the ban on international trade years ago. They say the ivory market is in Asia and China. That might have been true in the last century. But today? Have you seen pictures of Shanghai? I don’t really see any… market for ivory there. Louis Vuitton bags, yes. But Ivory? Research seems faulty and yet the elephant is dying.
A road sign in the sixties on the Nairobi-Mombasa road. The idea was to warn motorists of the dangers of elephant crossing. Some accidents had been reported of an elephant destroying a car or the other. Today, it seems to me the sign should read: “Elephants beware!”
Now, my little sister’s (well-founded) fear of elephants? I wasn’t sure why she would get in such a state until some time ago when I found those old earlier photos, c.1961-1962, on the other, western side of Africa:
There was an orphanage in Conakry, Guinea. Where elephant “babies” whose parents had been killed, were raised. We visited the “baby” elephants. I must have been 6 or 7, my little sister, 4 or 5.
A baby elephant at birth weighs 200 pounds. Those were probably closer to 400-500 pounds.
Conakry, West Africa. c. 1961-1962. Yours truly absolutely fascinated. (Do note the white socks) Little sister safely tucked away behind our mother, and deciding she did not like elephants. 🙂
Thank you for flying Equinoxio. Save the elephants!