Grumpy old men, there’s always one in every family!!! Do you have a member of the family that is too grumpy for words and ruins everyone else’s fun? Well, apparently elephants do too!
On a recent safari in East Africa our vehicle came across a small herd of elephants, approx 15 in the entire group. There were a few adults playing in a muddy ‘bath’, spraying each other and rolling around gleefully. You could see the youngsters waiting on the sidelines, watching with jealousy and itching to climb in. One was getting so close that he ended up slipping on the mud and he fell right in, disappeared under the murky water, and bobbed up a few seconds later to be met with a soft slap of mum’s trunk and a rumble of annoyance. His face however read ‘I couldn’t care less……I’m in J’! This promptly encouraged the adults to relent and leave the bath which was a signal for the other 4 or 5 youngsters to dive-bomb in.
This was an incredible sight and we were only 5 or so metres away watching every move and expression from our vehicle. After about 10 minutes, and clearly nowhere near long enough for the ‘bathers’, we heard a loud rumble from the other side of the vehicle. All turning quickly, jostling for space in our roof hatch, we saw the largest bull of the herd walking towards the bath, slowly but defiantly, emitting a constant low rumble.
He hadn’t taken his eyes away from the bath, a stare which had I been in the bath with that coming towards me, I would have added a little something to the mud!! Two of the youngsters leapt out of the bath immediately, while 1 more hovered for a few of seconds before leaping out too! As the bull neared the bath, all but one of the little ones had got out. The final little one was aware of what was coming but was too intent on blowing bubbles in the water, until the massive bull towered above his head. The bull gave a short and very loud blast of his trunk, almost to say ‘this is your last chance junior……’before he plunged right into the bath, mud, water and a baby elephant being splashed out onto the sides.
The bull elephant couldn’t look any more smug as the baby pulled himself up and with a glare that could have smashed glass, he stalked off to the rest of the herd.
Back in the vehicle we were all speechless and amazed, still staring after the herd long after they had disappeared over the horizon. It was like we had been watching a human family, with all the different personalities and emotions that come with it. An experience I will never forget!