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zimproguide

We were blessed

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zimproguide

We were blessed…

 

It had been a bit of slow game drive that morning; we had not seen a whole lot. The bush is still very thick, as the rains have only just finished in Hwange. To make matters a bit worse my two guests pretty much spoke no English so it was a drive with lot of broken English from them and broken Spanish from me and a lot of hand gestures.

 

We had gone round the salt spring loop and were just coming out on the Mandavu side when I saw an Ele bull drinking at a little river than runs along the edge of the grassland. I looked at him through my binos, a big old bull with decent ivory. I told the guests, more with hand signals that we were going to walk. We all jumped out and I went through my safety talk, again with a lot of hand gestures and using my broken Spanish. Basically It was stay close to me and don’t run whatever happens.

 

The wind was good for us and we worked our way along the tree line so the bull would not pick us up. The little river that he was drinking from was about three meters wide and had banks about a foot and half high. He was right at the edge of the bank and had to lean forward and down to get his trunk to the water. I had spotted a good spot for us to approach into. It was a little scrub Mopane that was quite bushy and would give us good cover. It was also just on the other side of the little river so we would be about five meters from the bull but still have the river between us which I knew he could cross if he really wanted too but he couldn’t do it quickly. We snuck into that point unnoticed by the bull and were crouched down looking at him through the leaves. When you are that close it is amazing to see how he sucks water up into his trunk and then sprays it into his mouth, you not only get to see it close up but also to hear it. The sound of him sucking and his trunk flexing as he does then you can look into his mouth as he leans his head back and sprays the water into it.

 

We had been sat like this for a couple of minutes when one of the guests shifted there weight and make a scrapping sound in the sand. The bull immediately stopped dead still and picked up his head, staring into the bush that were hiding behind. I knew he couldn’t see us as long as we kept still. I turned my head slowly and gestured to them not to move. I could see on their faces that they were nervous now that the bull was alert. I made a thumb’s up sign and smiled at them, they gave a half smile back at me. The bull was just standing and staring at our bush. The bank that he was on was probably a foot higher that the one were on so he looked even bigger than he actually was. And he was big to start with let me tell you. Then slowly he leans forward and down and dips his trunk in the water and with a huge flex of his trunk takes up a load of water. To digress slightly here, a big elephant bull can suck up to ten liters of water into his trunk in one go. As I have said already this was a big bull. After he has sucked the water up he makes like he is going to spray in into his mouth and then suddenly stretches his trunk forward and blasts the water in the bush that we are hiding in. His aim is perfect, we are all soaked, I have a huge smile on my face and turn to look at my guests with water running down my face. I see that they are just as wet as I am. They look terrified; when they see the huge grin that I have on my face they calm down a bit and manage a half smile. Again I give them the thumbs up and they relax. The bull does this three more times; by the end of it we are all drenched, water running down our faces and our clothes soaked.

 

Like I knew it was more of a mission to cross this little river for him than he was wanting, so just decided to see what it was he had heard in the bush by blasting it with water. When we hadn’t moved at all after the four blasts of water he relaxed and decided that there was nothing to worry about in the bush and relaxed again and continued drinking as he was before. We sat for another five minutes enjoying the moment and the slowly pulled back. When we got back to the car I looked and the bull was still drinking none the wiser to the fact that three people had just snuck up to within five meters of him. He had given us the official Hwange big bull blessing!

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graceland

When you are that close it is amazing to see how he sucks water up into his trunk and then sprays it into his mouth, you not only get to see it close up but also to hear it. The sound of him sucking and his trunk flexing as he does then you can look into his mouth as he leans his head back and sprays the water into it

 

And that is the very reason God invented walking safaris!

 

Isn't that the most amazing experience ever - the sounds, the look; the closeness - thank you for sharing the experience @zimproguide; it just makes me want to walk back into the bush sooner than later!

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Geoff

Ha. He probably didn't see you but I reckon he could smell you and was letting you know you needed a shower.

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KaingU Lodge

Brilliant,

I love your descriptions of up close encounters. That is an experience that your guests will clearly never ever forget.

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Sverker

Great story!

 

Thanks for sharing.

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wilddog

Thanks for sharing this; @@zimproguide - a wonderful experience and your writing gives us the sense of joy you were experiencing. Even if your customers were somewhat nervous I have no doubt they will relive that special moment for many years. Hard to beat !

 

I have seen this behaviour once before but not so close, we were drifting down river in front of a bull who squirted at us. It did not reach us. A useful warning device...............:)

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Marks

Baptism by elephant? That was a very fun story.

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Atravelynn

Baptism by elephant? That was a very fun story.

Great title for it.

 

I hope all cameras survived the encounter.

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