Wednesday, September 12, 2012


It is our last day in the Etosha National Park today and we decide to only visit our favorite waterholes. After a quick visit to Blesbokfontein waterhole where we are lucky enough to get a black rhino out in the open we head off to Rietfontein, an active waterhole where we are guaranteed some action.

By now I even have a favorite spot to park to get the best shots on offer and we wait. We are not disappointed as wave after wave of elephants pass us by. Finally, the big herd arrives. Today, instead of going around the back of the waterhole they pass close by as there is a group of rambunctious young males splashing around on the far side of the pond. There is nothing more exciting than landing up in the middle of a group of elephants and their close proximity certainly heightens the experience.

The leader of the group today is the matriarch's youngest offspring. As the group quickly move forward with their measured steps the young elephant has difficulty in keeping up. His gargantuan mother moves deliberately forward without stopping and he has to keep running to keep in front. He stops every now and again and scratches the inside of his right hind leg with his left leg. Then he takes off again to catch up.

Suddenly, the youngster swerves in front of his mother and comes to a complete halt. She patiently stops and waits for him. He starts sniffing around in the dust. The matriarch gently nudges him with her trunk trying to push him forward. He doesn't react and she gives him a bit of a boot. The line moves forward once again only to be stopped again a few paces further. This time the little elephant is sniffing at a rock.

He drops to his knees over the white stone and rocks backwards and forwards giving himself a good old scratch. Patiently, the whole line of more than fifty elephants wait. The scratching goes on for quite a while when the mother starts pushing with her trunk again. The little elephant seems reluctant to move away from his rock and he falls over it seemingly hugging it. Gently his mother gives him a bit of a kick in the butt again and he only reacts when she starts moving around him and resumes her measured pace once again.

He jumps up and runs, ears and trunk flapping in the wind and takes his place in the front of the line again as they head towards the water.

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