Safari 2018 #46 Take your Bumps and solve the Problem

by david on October 2, 2019

Even though we found no jumbo’s the sunrise was worth the effort of being up and out early. Even though we found no jumbo’s the sunrise was worth the effort of being up and out early.


Thursday, September 27

Up at 5:00, breakfast at 5:30, and on the trail looking for elephant soon thereafter.  We soon left any semblance of a trail and went totally cross country. We went bouncing through the reeds, across the floodplain, through drainages, and along the river.  The going was slow and at times excruciating. The bright side was the scenery was gorgeous. Due to our proximity to the river, the vegetation had greened just enough to keep down the black dust.  Having something to look at was a blessing and helped distract you from the bumps. The distractions were also a curse in that you could forget about the bumps, hit one and whack your head against the side of the truck.  I ended the day with several knots on my head as a result. From our vantage point, the world was full of zebra and buffalo, but no elephants were to be found. I had given up on finding a jumbo for myself. Finding any was proving to be difficult; finding two was seemingly impossible.  We kept trying to help Peter find his elephant as he had never taken one before. I wanted him to succeed. He needed to know what it was like. The thrill, the success, and even the remorse of a successful hunt. Everything that makes elephant hunting unequaled to any other experience.

We left the river and drove up one of the drainages left by the receding flood waters.  It was plenty dry now, but also plenty pockmarked by thousands of elephant and buffalo tracks left in its once muddy bottom.  At least I was beginning to get used to the lurching, tilting and rocking of the Landcruiser as it traversed this miserable terrain.  We rocked and rolled for about two miles when Johann spotted some tracks. We stopped for a look (and to give our sore, sweaty, sitting down places a break, and the tracks were fresh, only a few hours old. They were headed to the river and we figured the elephants were heading back to Botswana. Since the elephants were leaving in the morning, that translated to them coming in the evening.  We wanted to know what they were coming for. Everything in our immediate area was also available just across the river on the Botswana side. It had to be something else the jumbos wanted. To find the answer, we would need to back track the elephants to find where they had spent the night.  We followed the tracks back to a small raised piece of land everyone referred to an island. Since there was no water in sight, this confused the dickens out of me. That was until I figured out it was only an island in the rainy season. The locals kept the designation of “island” to differentiate it from the surrounding area.  Since the whole area looked similar with no distinguishing landmarks the use of “island” immediately let everyone know where. Directions like: “Go to the fourth tree on the right, turn left and keep going until you get to the big grey log” would be confusing at best. An island without water made perfect sense when you thought about it.  When we got to the “island”, we figured out what the elephants were after. Trees and bushes with new spring growth was everywhere. The new tender vegetation was the object of the elephant’s desire. Since there was plenty of it here and we had not bumped the herd with the truck, scaring them off, they would most likely be back for more tonight.   Looking around for a place to wait and watch the next day, we noticed some trees and bushes thick enough to hide any elephant wishing to remain close to the springtime buffet and still stay out of sight. Since it was still before lunch, we decided to bear some more bumps and check to see if there were any elephants there. After tiptoeing the Landcruiser through the brush and scrub for the better part of an hour with no results, we headed back for lunch.

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