“I look into your eyes, soft and deep with secrets, and I wonder; what paths have you travelled in the seasons of your life? What knowledge and stories do you keep to guide you? What is it like to go for days without water and then find it again? Are camelthorn pods really so delicious?”
Rachel Lang puts what many of us often wonder about elephants into a beautiful string of words. I think what she’s really trying to say, along with the rest of us, is ‘if only we could all become an elephant for a day!’
Beyond our wildest dreams, there is a magical place where you can be awed by their large presence and mystical behaviour. Situated on Zimbabwe’s Lake Kariba, in the Matusadona National Park, Musango Safari Camp is an elephant mecca. From this lake-side base you can not only watch them wallow, snorkel, and swim in the water, but also follow their footsteps in one of Musango’s land Rovers or on foot with Steve Edwards, one of Africa’s best known guides.
As a result of the endless hours in their good company, the camp has developed a crazy, mad, serious love for elephants. Here are a few reasons why:
They are family-oriented.
Elephants know every member of their family herd and other nearby families and stick together through the harshest of circumstances. The matriarch of the herd (most commonly the eldest mother) will lead the group towards food and water and away from danger. She makes the ultimate group decisions in the best interest of the herd. Female elephants are also known to assist each other in many other situations, such as childbirth and raising young elephants. It is a marvel to watch the youngsters travel in a single file line while holding onto their mother’s tail with the tip of their trunks.
They have incredible memories.
There is quite a bit of truth to the saying “elephants never forget.” They boast the largest brain of any land mammal in the animal kingdom. Their large cerebral cortex allows them to be great problem solvers; a trait elephants display in many creative and humorous ways. The bounds of an elephant’s memory are not limited to encounters with its herd nor its own species alone. Some have been known to recall people too. And if that doesn’t amaze you, they can even recognize themselves in the mirror!
P.S. It’s been known that Musango’s resident elephants recognise Steve’s voice. Call him an elephant whisperer because on many occasions he’s successfully called the gentle giants over to his game vehicle!
They have a heart of gold.
Elephants are some of the most emphatic creatures on the planet. They live in close-knit herds for up to 70 years and form strong family bonds during this time. When one of their relatives dies, the rest of the herd will mourn. Their capacity for grief is endearing.
Back to Rachel’s question, “Are camelthorn pods really so delicious?” Although camelthorn pods are a Kalahari sand tree, Acacia pods have much the same effect and we can only assume they’re both the sweetest little treats. You’ll have to ask the elephants yourself at Musango Safari Camp.