About the Author

Liam Henderson

Field Guide

Liam was educated in the Eastern Cape for high school and Stellenbosch for his university days where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in environmental development and conservation. His love for the bush grew from a year spent in East Africa between high school ...

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38 Comments

on Surrounded By Elephants

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

Wonderful experience Liam. A privilage to be so close to Elephants. Every inter action let you understand them better. I am busy reading Elephantoms by Lyall Watson. A wonderful and informative read. You have probably read it already.

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Any time spent with elephants is never wasted, you learn or appreciate something different every time. I have not read it but will keep an eager eye for it on the shelf the next time I am in a bookshop.

Joe Tyrrell
Explorer

Hi Liam
Two friends and I had a similar experience on the Chobe River a few years ago, when a large herd of ellies came down to drink as we were sitting above the river enjoying the peace of the afternoon . They came over the crest of the hill behind us and were on us almost before we knew they were there. There were no trees to climb, and nowhere to go. All we could do was sit tjoepstil at the base of a small tree, stop breathing, and hope for the best. The ellies strolled past on both sides of us, not more than three or four metres away on either side. I will not say we were calm, but at least we did not let the ellies know how terrified we were! They must have known we were there, and we were astonished they paid us so little attention.
As you say, it is possible to be at close quarters with elephants, but only if you let them approach you and appear calm during their approach.
All best wishes
Joe

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Amazing experience Joe. I especially enjoy the tjoepstil behaviour that you endorsed. Sometimes there are no better expressions than that of afrikaans language.

Dan Deherder
Explorer

Fantastic article and photos, Liam! You described the overall feeling incredibly well. Transported me back to watching elephants at Phinda drink from our pool. Truly an epic experience to be so close to an animal so large.

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Thank you Dan, it was a unique experience that we found ourselves in and will not be soon forgot.

What a wonderful blog! And such a wonderful experience! Thank you for sharing!

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Appreciate the kind words Nickolette. Im glad you enjoyed it.

Mary Beth Wheeler
Digital Tracker

What a well-told story – I could imagine myself sitting with you under that tree, breathing a little faster and shallower, as she approached! An amazing experience!

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Thank you and I am glad that you are able to imagine such an experience, a little different once you are staring up at the elephant approaching.

Ian Hall
Senior Digital Ranger

Excellent account.

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Thank you Ian, took awhile to get the whole experience into words but glad you enjoyed the story.

Ian Hall
Senior Digital Ranger

A few years ago, I was with Simon Smit, and instead of rushing around I sat on a large granite boulder by the causeway watching this small family group move towards us. It was very hypnotic and you just were absorbed into the moment . The fact I wasn’t in a Land Rover and there was absolute peace and quiet was amazing. I sat watching for an hour and a half. As sightings go it was so mundane it wasn’t true, what made it different was the Ellies were aware of us and continued on towards us. No diesels, no noise, just the Ellies walking towards us, whilst we sat on a rock. It was one of the most magical moments of my life. I just felt absorbed by it.

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

As you say Ian, sometimes it is best to let the animals approach you, even better when one is on foot or on a granite rock and it will make all the difference. Awesome account of your experience and I trust that you relive it every time you see elephants.

Judy Hayden
Explorer

Amazing. I have to live my cream through you guys #Loveit

Judy Hayden
Explorer

I mean dream 🙂

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

In some ways it did feel like a dream Judy, thank you for the kind words.

Wendy Hawkins
Explorer

Wow Liam you are braver than me, I would never have done that even in my youth, so hats off to you both! Your pictures are stunning 🙂

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

A concoction of being in the right place at the right time and most importantly the right frame of mind.

Darlene Knott
Senior Digital Ranger

Wow, what an experience for you. We have also been on the ground with elephants. It is quite intimidating! Thanks for sharing your experience!

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Very intimidating and so humbling in many ways. I’m glad you enjoyed my account of the events.

Lucie Easley
Explorer

My heart was beating a bit faster as I read your account of the elephant’s approach as you two sat on the ground. The experience of acceptance as a non-threatening being must have been tremendous.

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Thank you for the kind words Lucie, it was a unique experience and one that will not be soon forgot.

What an amazing experience! I am scared of them but love them!

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

One must always e’r on the side of caution but this was a unique experience that the elephants allowed us into their space.

Gawie Jordaan
Digital Ranger

Thank you Liam! I was privileged enough to go out with Alan before on foot a few times & this brought back fond memories & longing to do so again. One does experience the wild in a different way.

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Experiences of foot change the bush and the wild life around you. A defining experience for me.

Leonie De Young
Explorer

Was holding my breath while reading the part of the pregnant ellie coming so close to you both. What an awesome experience for you two. Great blog Liam, thank you both for sharing.

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Thank you for the kind words Leonie. I’m glad that you enjoyed my story.

Rich Laburn
Head of Digital

Great write up of what must have been an incredible experience on foot. Elephants seem to mirror our human emotions so closely that we appear to know them on a deeper level of connection and understanding.

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

That sounds like an unreal experience, to be so close to an elephant on foot, with no vehicle separated you from them. Have had that experience with rhino’s before, there is just nothing else like it! And the way you described was pure poetry.

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Thank you Callum for the kind words. It was an amazing experience and I am happy that I managed to get it down into words that one would appreciate.

Jill Larone
Explorer

Liam, thank you for sharing your incredible experience and beautiful pictures with us!

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Thank you Jill, I enjoy creating experiences and then getting people to appreciate it through a story.

Eulalia Angédu
Explorer

An enormous creature with a ‘soft eye’. This is guy is a wonder.The pictures sre captivating Liam.It must have been quiet a thrilling experience.Bravo!

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Thank you Eulalia. The soft eye is something I now look for in every elephant that I come across.

Oliver Sinclair
Explorer

Some of your most memorable experiences in the bush will take place on foot…

Liam Henderson
Field Guide

Could not agree with you more Oliver.

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