Lions and Elephants and Zebras - oh my! Part 1: Elephants

Being on safari is incredible.  You drive along dirt roads in huge open aired jeeps, avoiding obstacles like trees knocked down by elephants, always on the lookout.  We saw many different animals in Zimbabwe, but my favorite was the elephant.  They are amazing creatures.  While we all had seen plenty of them at the zoo, nothing prepares you for seeing them in person in their own natural habitat.  They are immense creatures, incredibly social, love-able and absolutely terrifying at the same time.  I much prefer running into them in the daylight than turning a corner in the dark and seeing them on the road.  Seeing them in their natural habitat gives you a sense of what incredibly strong and immense animals they are.  One day the road would be clear, the next day, a huge tree will be blocking the road thanks to an elephant knocking it over as easily as a toddler knocks down a tower of blocks.

We watched elephants shake acai berries off branches by bumping their rumps against the trunks of trees.  We saw entire paths created by a herd of elephants knocking down trees as if they were flies being swatted out of the way.  We waited patiently and QUIETLY as elephant herds crossed in front of our vehicle creating their own path through the dense landscape.  But watching herds of elephants enjoy a watering hole was the most amusing and entertaining way to observe these enormous creatures.  Elephants would come and go, splashing around, posturing with one another, playing with one another, drinking water - herd, after herd, after herd. 

It was at these watering holes that some of my favorite elephant photos were taken.  “Elephant Hug” and “Elephant Kiss” were taken of two animals playing/fighting with one another.  If you watch the video you can see just how quickly the moment came and went.  I just happened to have my camera on two elephants, watching them interact and the moment came, I snapped, and I was ecstatic when I got home.  It took patience, a lot of frames, and luck, for it all to come together.  “Smile” was also taken at the watering hole along with “Elephant Hide”.  The elephant in “Time for a Bath” was having a field day in the water.  I probably took about 20-30 photos of him rolling and splashing around.  It really was like watching one of my kids enjoy a swimming pool.  Rolling around, spraying water, going under, coming up - I could have spent hours watching him. 

I opted to print this collection in black and white to focus on the animals and not get distracted by the backgrounds.  Most of the photos in this collection were taken with my Olympus E-M5II with a Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm zoom lens.  You can see in the video how close we were able to get to these creatures.  I thought we were pretty darn close, little did I know that we would get even closer to the lions.

To be continued…