.All Trips / Africa / Botswana

“Pic of the Week”, July 28, 2016: African Elephants


Elephants have fascinated me since I was a child.  You can enjoy them at the circus, in documentaries and zoos, but to really appreciate elephants you need to observe them in the wild.  They are majestic and entertaining, and will capture your full attention.   Their cute little ones will steal your heart.

African elephants are the largest land animals currently living on our planet.  They have massive ears shaped like the continent on which they live (and which are larger than the auricular appendages of their Asian cousins).  Because of their size, they consume a lot of food, about 300 pounds (136 kilograms) a day.  They are social creatures, with females and the young roaming in herds, but bulls tending to be solitary.

Their trunks are a marvels of engineering and functionality.  Elephants use their trunks as a tool for tearing, pulling, sucking water, breathing, smelling and trumpeting, but they are also capable of a gentle caress.   There are said to be more than 100,000 muscles in an elephant’s trunk, although I’m not sure how you could possibly count that many. To stay cool and prevent sunburn, elephants love to take mud baths, for which their trunks are also useful.

Both sexes have ivory tusks, useful for stripping bark from trees and digging, and used by males in battle.  As we know, it is these tusks, which are so beautiful and valuable to many people, that have endangered elephants.  Fortunately with the banning of ivory sales in most countries elephants are making a comeback.

While on safari, we came across the remains of an elephant in Botswana, including its tusks.  We got out and looked around, and lifted one of the tusks (never had seen one in person before); they are extremely heavy!  They tusks are beautiful, but the fines and penalties if you get caught with one are staggeringly severe — including decades in an African prison.

I was looking through some of my photos the other day and came across this collection of elephant photos from our time in Botswana.  I hope you enjoy them!

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