Remember that scene in Jurassic Park where they see dinosaurs for the first time, and they’re in total awe of the way they move – these wonderful mammals, making their way across the bush? Well that’s what it’s like when you see African elephants in the wild for the first time. Because even if you’ve seen them in captivity, nothing can prepare you for the magic of seeing them walk freely (they’re faster than you’d imagine), using their trunks to gather the tastiest plants and trees as they travel, their ears flapping and the sound of their giant feet crunching the twigs and leaves beneath. I’m not ashamed to say that I started crying. They are so majestic and statuesque, and of course, while the rangers of the Serengeti are doing their best to protect them, they are also incredibly vulnerable.
The first elephant we saw was a young male, dark smokey grey with pristine white tusks. He moved with impressive speed and precision – it was incredible watching him go.
We also saw an older elephant – approximately 45 – which was comforting; I think he clocked us watching him but he still carried on eating (that tree would have been gone in about five minutes).
And then the next day, shortly before we spotted the super pride of lions, an extraordinary piece of luck (because you never know what you’re going to get on safari in the Serengeti): we came across a herd of African elephants; all ages, including babies. It was an absolutely life-affirming moment – to know that against all the odds, this herd are surviving.
I loved the way this family of African elephants walked together, all in a line…
…and this beautiful elephant seemed oblivious to us – he just wanted to carry on eating. We kept a respectful distance of course.