Top Tembo Mama ~ Among Lewa’s Elephants And Other Animals

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The elephant on the left is the matriarch of this little family group of six adult females and three infants. She is giving us the once over before concluding we are no threat to her charges. In elephant world, the matriarch rules; she is the keeper of the family knowledge; the guide and decision maker. She will also kill any creature that is deemed a threat.

Following on from yesterday’s post on Lewa Downs Conservancy, here are some notes from that trip. We’re out on a morning drive with Kevin our expert guide:

By now it’s late morning and we’re down by the swamp. The waterbuck stare out at us, and as we follow the track that skirts the reed bed we come upon a herd of oryx. They’re very shy though and won’t stay.



Kevin drives on towards a clump of fever trees, now following elephant prints along the track, and as we reach the acacias there is a lone old bull, large as life and very close.  Too close? When it comes to elephants the warning signs to look out  for are ears spread and trunk up and to the side. But we’re not bothering him. He views us serenely through long lashes, shakes his battle torn ears, ambles alongside the truck for a while then wanders off.


Graham meanwhile spots a group of elephant across the swamp and Kevin sets off for a better view. For a while we park on the track, torn between watching brilliant carmine bee eaters in one direction and the little herd in the other. The elephants are about fifty yards away in the fever trees, and I think that’s close enough, but no, Kevin is eyeing up the lie of the land, picking out a line of solid ground. Soon we are parked with swamp on our right and elephants on our left.

At first the matriarch adopts an intimidating stance, but then changes her mind. Our presence in no way interrupts tree browsing and bottom scratching, and no attempt is made to shield the youngest calf from our view. We watch for ten minutes or so, listening to the taptapping of a nearby woodpecker, the call of hadada ibis, spot a vervet monkey watching us watching the elephants. Then Kevin decides it’s time to leave them in peace. As we pull away over the rough ground we’re left with the musky, goaty, muddy smell of elephant in our nostrils.



Square Tops #21

27 thoughts on “Top Tembo Mama ~ Among Lewa’s Elephants And Other Animals

  1. wow! (I am saying wow a lot in response to your posts aren’t I!) What an incredible experience Trish, and lucky you were in your guide. A top experience 😀

  2. Fabulous experience, Tish! The musky, goaty smell of elephant….that isn’t a descriptor I’ve heard before, but very evocative

  3. A lovely encounter. My little sister would have shrieked in fright. She was extremely scared of elephants…
    Thanks, as always, memsahib mkubwa for the shared memories…

  4. Wow, to have a day like that to report about! If I gave a play by play commenter on my life, I think I’d have to get creative about all the snacks I’ve had or the quality of my couch lounging!

    What beautiful pictures! I quite envy the day someone else is having.

    1. Thanks for visiting, though sorry to induce home sickness. Kenya has so many different kinds of safari experiences on offer, and also there is a lot wildlife around anyway, not only in reserves or parks.

      1. I do miss home, but not in a melancholic way 🙂 I’ve been to Mombasa and the beach scenes are just dreamy – have you been there? Will have to go again for a safari! It’s nice if you get to spend more time there to be able to see “everyday” wildlife though – similar to SA in a way 🙂

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