I realize this may sound like exaggerated hyperbole. But, until you’ve come face-to-face with an animal more than twice your height and 75 times your weight, it’s hard to fathom how the experience can alter your perception of humanity’s place in the Universe.
For me, it happened during the first game drive on the first day of my safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
He was a massive bull elephant, feeding on a tree about 75 yards from our open-air safari vehicle in Londolozi Game Reserve. As he noticed us, he slowly turned and ambled our way with a sense of purpose. When he got within 50 yards, I began looking at our guide nervously. By the time he’d reached the 30 yard mark, we asked if perhaps it was time to move the Jeep and give him some space. Solomon assured us that it was fine, as the elephant came closer and closer and closer.
Finally he stopped, less than 10 yards from my side of the vehicle, his humongous face at my eye level. He lifted his trunk into the air and sniffed, his nostrils pointed right at me: I swear I could feel his breath when he exhaled. There was not a single movement– not a single sound– from the 6 passengers. After what felt like an eternity, the elephant turned, walked over to the nearest tree and pushed it over as if to say, “You see what I could have done to you?” I wept at the overwhelming beauty of the moment.
It was incredible moments such as this (as well as in-depth conversations with the conservation-focused guides at Londolozi) that sparked my belief in the benefits of ecotourism, and set me off on the 15-year mission that ultimately led us to start Green Global Travel. And while elephants are not the only species we’re passionate about conserving, they’ve had a special place in my heart ever since.
Written by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett
Filed under Wildlife
Brett and. Mary, simply one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. I can imagine the whole experience. Thank you for sharing!
Great write up Bret and Mary. A visit to Londolozi is definitely a life changing experience.
Beautifully written! I was holding my breath as you described your experience. It may be my only meeting with an elephant, so thank you for sharing. Aren’t the animals at Londolozi magnificent? I’ve been following the blog for over a year and am in love with the entire experience…the animals, the people, the work that is being done to preserve the species, and the natural beauty of the place. You just made it all the richer! Jan
It is amazing! You never know when that moment will happen. That moment that says, “this is what the rest of your life will be about”.. I am so happy that these amazing creatures gave you that moment.
I wonder how many, have those moments and let them pass into a pleasant memory.
Thank you for sharing
Reading about your experience brought back memories of a similar one for my husband and myself. We were also in Sabi Sands and it was our first safari although instead of a bull, we had several protective mothers surround us. What an incredible, heart-pounding experience!
I think we all have one animal that made us love Africa for ever and ever after.
Mine was a lion. I thought I had seen God in those great golden eyes.
What an amazing experience and such a moment in time to be treasured.
LOve Elephants.They are amazing creatures!!!THey are so sensitive.Love watching a family group moving seeing them protecting their young .
Yes WOW. I had a similar incident with elephants at Tembe (Kwa Zulu Natal) they are rather at ease with people there (only 1 poached in the last 4-5 years) passengers should always listen to what the guides tell them, elephants are inquisitive and will investigate noise. Elephants are definitely one my of my top favorites