Safari 2018 #48 Good Detective Work

by david on October 7, 2019

Friday, September 28

Up at 4:30, coffee only at 5:00, and on the road at 5:15.  Our fifth campmate, Craig, is headed out with us this morning rather than Byron.  We thought that might bring us a change of luck. Craig was a friend of the company that ran the concession.  He helped with clients and with chores around camp, and, in return, got room and board and some hunting privileges.  He is a nice fellow, and I felt it would be fun having him along. We headed straight for the river and the point where the elephant crossed yesterday.  There did not appear to be any fresh tracks heading back across the river. We hoped this was a good sign and the elephants were still on our side. We took a roundabout way back towards the island to make the wind work to our advantage.  We were glassing the floodplain and reeds for elephants, all while checking for tracks along the way. Everyone had a part to play. We stopped at glassing range from the island. We figured it would be easy to see them if they were still feeding.  Unfortunately, they were no longer there. Our next move was to head to where we found the tracks yesterday morning along the reed beds. Sure enough, there were fresh tracks over the old ones. We started for a high patch to glass, when Johann had a better idea.  We had two trackers and a game scout in the back of the truck. He handed Shona Hunting’s tracker Jonas a radio and told them all to get out and track. The guys seemed excited to have something to do, and they disappeared into the reeds. If they had known what they were about to discover moments later, I am not so sure they would have been.  We headed towards the high spot and did not go 200 yards before the radio cracks and a whisper of “we found them” came from the speaker. We just get turned around to head back when the radio tells us to STOP. The cruiser’s starting, stopping and getting closer has made the elephants nervous. They had moved off a short ways and were hiding in the reeds.  The guys made their way back to the truck and we slowly and, as quiet as possible, move off about two kilometers to an elevated position and started glassing. While we were glassing, we were getting a report from Jonas. The guys ended up almost on top of the elephants before they knew it. Bellies full, the elephants were just loafing in the shade of the reeds.  They were making very little noise and were not moving. It is amazing how such large animals can be completely invisible until you are right on top of them but, that is what happened. The guys were studying the tacks and almost walked into the middle of them. I have ended up in the middle of a herd of elephants by accident, and it is no fun. Even though several of us were well armed, it was nerve wracking until we got clear.  These three were unarmed and quite vulnerable. It was not funny at the time, but I would have loved to see the looks on their faces when they figured out how close they were

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