Monday, January 4, 2010

Elephants Can't Jump

Third country on our African adventure: Botswana.

The Photograph

The Story
I rode an elephant once as a kid. I think it might have been at the Cincinnati Zoo. Since then, I've seen elephants from time to time, other zoos, other fairs. And yet, my heart sped and my breath caught when I laid eyes on my first up close free roaming elephant in Botswana's Chobe National Park. Stately, sedate and graceful, elephantine society fascinates. That such enormous creatures can be so gentle makes it easy to forget the power they hold. The resounding sound of two young bulls knocking tusks in playful challenge brings that fact back immediately. As does the way my heart suddenly jumped to my throat at seeing two bulls charge between two small safari trucks loaded with friends. They meant no harm, only wanting a clear path from the river to the trees. But had the wanted more, what recourse would there be? From solitary bulls to playful calves, every movement a testament to the wonder that is African Safari. Of some 70,000 elephants who make Chobe home, we may have seen a hundred. Somehow I don't think I'd ever tire of watching their stately movements, and mischievous interactions.

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