The Night the Elephants Came to Visit

African Elephants, Zambia

The Magical Elephants that Came to Visit

I find wild elephants fascinating to watch because of the communication they have between each other.  If you are quiet and respectful, there are various “conversations” you get the privilege of observing.  The most wonderful exchange I ever witnessed, one that I find soothing to my soul, was the time I watched a mother and her calf just six feet away from my door. 



It was our second night in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia and I was awakened by what I thought must be a raging rain storm.  It sounded like gushing water on our hay-like roof.  uh-oh.  I sat up under the mosquito net, puzzling this out, remembering I was in Africa somewhere, oh yeah, Zambia, but it’s the dry season, it can’t be rain.  Within minutes we found the answer:  outside our hut was a massive 12 foot elephant ravaging a tree. 




Jet at the door, tree on right



Night Visitor

Night Visitor from a distance

It was past midnight and no other human was stirring.  We could hear our friend snoring in the hut next door.  The elephant’s solid body was a few feet from the balcony’s flimsy support beam (i.e. an old tree part).  She could have demolished it just by turning in a different direction.  Years earlier I had seen elephants invading our camp and they obliterated tall, strong trees in a single step as they innocently made their way to the river.  The magnificence of this animal is breathtaking. 



And I must admit, that night in Zambia I was indeed breathless.  My partner and I looked at each other, wide-eyed but silent, wondering what to do.  Cell phone reception, out of the question.  The camp was nearly empty and everyone was asleep.  And it was too dark for decent photos, yet a flash would scare her away.  I remember looking above my head to see what could fall on me.  It was the second floor.  I wasn’t afraid though.  Perhaps it was the mellow lunar essence that had washed over us, or maybe it was her hypnotic, steady breathing.  Whispering, we made a decision to only snap one photo from a distance and not go outside, with hopes of her languishing here as long as possible. 



And that was when the magic began because next we heard her faintly purr and rumble.  It’s a sound exclusive to elephants and one that rests in a sweet place in my mind–the soft and gentle purring of a mega-ton mammal. 


Then, from between our hut and our friends’ hut, a baby elephant came trotting onto the scene.  What we had heard, we realized, was Mother Elephant calling her precocious offspring, this 250 pound baby.  The calf nudged up to its mother and nursed, while the mother continued to chomp leaves and snap branches.  They stayed there for another thrilling 15 or 20 minutes as we watched from our hut, mesmerized and delighted.  Baby elephants are adorable creatures to watch.  They don’t have muscle control yet in their trunk, so it flops around while they try to figure it out.  They’re curious and playful, but clumsy.  After Mother Elephant had annihilated most of the tree, they made their exit.   



Another visitor to our camp

Another visitor to our camp

The next day in the morning light we examined the pitiful remainder of the tree, marveled at the giant foot prints, told our friends about the scene, and proudly presented our one photograph of evidence.  After breakfast we saw the mother-calf pair again, the magical elephants who came to visit. 



24 thoughts on “The Night the Elephants Came to Visit

  1. This is a lovely story Jet. Have you read The Elephant Whisperer yet? I think you’d like it. The author talks about those stomach rumblings.
    When I was in Uganda a herd of wild elephants stepped out in front of the jeep I was in. There was a baby with them, and they all gathered around the baby to protect her before they crossed the road. It was so lovely to witness.

  2. Crikey, Jet! – you do seem to like living dangerously … I mean in terms of your ‘tree’ house. But life must be so utterly amazing, seeing those creatures whose places you inhabit moving around you without anger. When I think of the way mankind looks at the situation: people take over their world and tell them to piss off, killing them without compunction if they don’t. How astonishing to be able to live amongst them …

  3. Pingback: Tagged C: Chihuly | The World Is a Book...

  4. Oh, I wish I had been there to experience that. So you’ve been to every continent except Antarctica? How do you do that? I mean how do you support all the traveling you do? It’s a dream for me to be able to do this. Anyway loved the story about your visit to Africa.

    • Glad you liked the elephant story, Steve. To answer your questions, I hope to visit Antarctica and Asia some day. As for how I travel: live modestly and budget constantly. Great to hear from you….

    • That was such a fun and unexpected visit from the elephants, pc. I’m glad you took the time to click into it. And then that the mother was communicating with her calf was something out of this world. A joy to share it with you….

    • Unfortunately I don’t know all there is to know about elephant and safaris, as it is a very big topic; but I am happy you stopped by, Melanie, and always happy to hear from you. We saw a lot of elephants in the Luangwa Valley (Zambia) because they migrate through there, but that is probably not going to give you a full safari experience. I have been to five African countries on numerous safaris, and my favorites were in Kenya and Tanzania. Hope that helps. Many thanks for your visit–

      • I always like to escape to your photography and take some deep breaths to escape the insanity that’s running amuk in the U.S. right now. Your blog is a blessing! I am thinking Kenya & Tanzania, so that’s good to know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s