We will get right to the point. Once you have been around the elephants for awhile you get an appreciation for how smart, compassionate and special they are. The Maasai who have lived with them for centuries hold them in high esteem. Everyone does.
When we watched them around the waterhole the first day at the Selenkay Conservancy we were impressed with how communicative they were with their body language and tummy rumbling. The young were playful and curious. The adults watched them and coached them through their activities.
There were compassionate moments between the young - trucks flung over sibling's backs, leaning and play - and between the adults. It was also apparent that there was order and structure. And, they were aware.
While they did not seem bothered by our presence you could not watch them without knowing that your were being observed as well. One young one directed a short mock charge at our viewing stand and more than one adult stopped to observe what we were doing.
So what happens when the elephant is confronted by another special creature of the African wild, the lion? The healthy adult elephant has no reason to fear the lion but it's young, sick and elderly can fall prey to an active pride of lions.
We had a chance to answer that question, at least in part, on the afternoon of our third night in the Selenkay Conservancy. Toward the end of our afternoon game drive we turned a corner and happened on four young male lions heading together toward the waterhole where we had viewed the elephants earlier.
It was nearing sunset, a time when the elephant might be vacating the waterhole, and the lions were meandering in the general direction of the pool. We scrapped plans for the normal sundowner and stayed with the vehicle, keeping close as the lions slowly made their way.
The four boys were in no hurry, likely timing their arrival to coincide with sunset. They would stop and roll around in the road, then wander off a bit and then head back to the road and stroll in the direction of the waterhole.
They would stop to play in the dirt. And then move a bit. All the while, they payed little or no attention to our vehicle. This let us get close enough for photo ops like the one below.
Once they reached the clearing where the pond was things got even more deliberate. The elephants took notice immediately. As the lions got closer and the sun dropped lower, the elephants began to leave.
By the time the lions got to the edge of the pool it was almost dark and all but one elephant, a mature female, had departed. The photos tell the rest of the story.
I guess this is how you express your displeasure when you do not have a middle finger. The body language and facial expression of the front lion shows says it all. Shortly after this the elephant left. Message delivered and received.
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Clinton Richardson, has been writing for decades. His critically acclaimed venture strategy books first appeared in 1987 and are now in their 5th edition. His Ancient Selfies is an International Book Awards Finalist and an eLit Award Gold Medal Winner. Ancient history and capturing photographic moments are among his passions. See his photo galleries at TrekPic.com.