1-4 Jan. 2009
Lake Manyara / Serengeti / Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
This post is ALL about the elephants. There's not a lot of narration here, but if you like elephants, you'll like the post! There are 3 slideshows and 1 video. Enjoy!
A young, male elephant at Lake Manyara.
It may not be apparent in the pictures, but this guy (our first wild elephant!) was a little small. He is also displaying elephant "tears" on the side of his cheeks. As I understand it, this happens when the elephant is stressed out or emotional. Because of his size, I wonder if he was only recently booted from the herd. Poor little guy.
3 pics of the elephants in Ngorongoro Crater.
Our visit to Ngorongoro wasn't as elephant-heavy (pun intended) as our visit to Lake Manyara or the Serengeti. We saw elephant-shaped specks from the rim of the crater — using SUPER-zoom! — on 2 January as we headed toward Oldupai. When we visited the crater on 4 January, we only saw 2 solitary elephants. But since this post is all about trunk-wielding pachyderms, I didn't want to leave them out. :D
2 different groups of elephants on the Serengeti.
The first group of elephants we encountered appeared to be a bachelor group. That is, not a full herd, which are matriarchal in structure, but lonely man-lephants who have received the boot and must wander and forage alone(-ish).
The first elephant was taking a dirt bath, the second was hanging out on the other side of the road with a companion (not pictured). Did you notice the broken tusk? It seems he is a badass veteran of many man-lephant battles.
The second group of elephants is a herd that includes a fair number of babies and juveniles. It was on a day of occasional, brief rain showers which provided some really gorgeous lighting. This set has some of my favorite shots from our trip. The elephants are beautiful and majestic, and the scenery is enchanting.
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Below is video of those same elephants. As the wide shots above show, we were actually a fair distance away. It's only through the magic of modern technology that they appear within petting distance. There is a little background chatter between those of us in the safari vehicle and our guide, Fabian, but it's pretty minimal. Most of the non-critter sounds are the clickety-click of cameras.
Elephant herd, with realistic 2-D action!
I just reclaimed a YouTube account I'd set up for the blog and started sifting through the
mega MOOGA-bytes of video I have. Some of it was shot by me, but much of it was shot by Dario, especially the safari footage. It was made in the UnsteadyCam* format, or had background noise going on, and will require some editing to make it presentable. Other bits came out just lovely and amazing all on their own.
*Absurd patent pending ;)
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these amazing and beautiful creatures in the wild. It's so much nicer than seeing them in a zoo environment (or a circus *shudder*). I appreciate the work of zoos and international breeding programs very much, but there is no denying that elephants need space.
Speaking of which, the government of Tanzania is taking a huge step in the wrong direction right now and wants to build a highway through the Serengeti. The World Bank has offered to fund an alternate route that goes around this unique and sensitive area, but the government wants to proceed anyway — despite clear, scientific evidence that the impact would be horrendous to the environment and the economy.
Please go to the website for Serengeti Watch and see what you can do to help.
They can also be found on Facebook: STOP THE SERENGETI HIGHWAY.
As of this writing, there is a petition on Change.org that you can sign: http://www.change.org/petitions/find_fund_an_alternative_to_the_serengeti_highway.
Thanks for reading — and thanks for your help!