Elephants at Dawn

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There is nothing more imposingly serene than a large herd of unruffled elephants on the move. We humans, on the other hand, may become thoroughly over-excited by such an encounter. The elephants are not impressed though. They note our existence, weighing us up with scant regard. We are quickly aware of being mentally ‘put in our place’. And as we watch, and watch the herd’s slow and steady progress through the Mara thorn trees, we find ourselves succumbing to the collective elephant will. There is the urge to follow, to step out, placing each foot with quiet intention on the surface of the earth, moving at one within ourselves instead of forever rushing about, seeking fresh excitement. As they disappear from view, we are left with a sense that something has changed. Have we been changed? In any event, it seems there is much to be learned from an early morning meeting with elephants.

Later that day, as dusk is descending, we meet the herd again. They are crossing the trail that leads back to our camp. The guide stops the truck, and we stand up, leaning out of the roof hatches as the herd moves all around us. It is breath-taking. This time they are close enough to touch. We can smell their musky hides. They move around the truck as if it is not there, then fade into the darkness as quiet as ghosts.

© 2015 Tish Farrell

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46 thoughts on “Elephants at Dawn

  1. wonderful scene: “…the herd moves all around us. It is breath-taking. This time they are close enough to touch. … They move around the truck as if it is not there, then fade into the darkness as quiet as ghosts…”

  2. This post reminds me of a day we were leaving Amboseli for a morning game drive and we had to wait for almost 20 minutes as some elephants had blocked the road.

  3. Beautifully written! I’ve been thinking about these amazing creatures lately, as will be leaving for Thailand in a few days. Thanks for the inspiring (and timely:0)) post.

  4. Such amazing creatures. We had a close encounter once in Ado Elephant park.
    We bought a box of fruit on the road outside the park and it was in the boot of the car. It was a hot day and Elephants do have quite a good sense of smell! Scared the missus half to death!

    Lovely photos, Tish.

  5. “There is the urge to follow, to step out, placing each foot with quiet intention on the surface of the earth, moving at one within ourselves instead of forever rushing about, seeking fresh excitement.” Loved it, Tish!! That completely describes what one feels in the presence of these magnificent animals. Thanks for this post.

  6. What a wonderful experience….such magnificent and intelligent creatures. When I began my career in 1970, I started out as a wildlife painter, and did a lot of work at the Philadephia and LA zoos….I loved painting elephants….:)

    1. No, there seemed no reason to be nervous. Though one did feel the need to respect their space. Our guide actually stopped our truck a little way off from the herd, and suggested we had our picnic breakfast. That was surreal, standing there eating hard boiled eggs and watching elephants pass by.

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