NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – A week ago, I took a ride to the Amboseli National Park where I saw a herd of over 20 elephants traversing the vast grasslands.
My colleagues and I would have felt comfortable watching the huge mammals with their calves from metres away.
But our guide, Norah Njiraini, suddenly cruised from the main road of the park right in front of the huge mammals placing us right in their path.
One of the elephants walked straight to our car.
My blood ran cold and my heart skipped a beat. I shut my eyes waiting for our Land Rover to be toppled over.
“That is Gail coming,” Norah whispered. “Don’t worry, she knows this car. She cannot harm anyone. She is excited.”
I wasn’t convinced until Gail stopped right in front of our car flapping her giant ears.
“Elephants are sensitive, and they express their emotions.”
“They are very peaceful animals. They are very intelligent and they never forget. They have poor sight but they have a strong sense of smell and hearing. Here at Amboseli, the elephants have no enemies, they are peaceful,” Norah explained.
From time to time, we drove past the herd of elephants which Norah referred to as the JB family.
“Elephants live in families. A family is led by a matriarchal head who is an older and experienced female elephant.”
The family consists of mothers, sisters and their calves. Once in a while a male elephant can join a herd but keeps a distance.
Sons leave the heard at the age of 15 years to start their own families.
As we monitored JB’s family, I kept on wondering for how long we would wander in the expansive park.
But Norah knew very well where the mammals were headed to.
“They are going to feed at the swamp. Elephants keep on changing their diet. This family is going to feed on soft vegetation and drink water.”
Together with their calves, they took their sweet time, rumbling and feeding on grass.
I was not sure if indeed JB and her family were going to the swamp as Norah had said.
But she was right. She knew so much about them including who the naughty ones were; the calm ones and the trouble makers.