Adventure in Tanzania, Africa 2013
Encounter with a very large Bull Elephant
Field sketch from Tarangire NP, Tanzania 2013
Halloween 2013 and I am out in the bush on a game drive, the west side of Silale Swamp in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. About mid morning we had made our way over to the area by Kuro Air strip, a small airport for what I call “puddle jumpers” to land at. Just as we were coming around a bend in the road that actually intersects with the road to the airstrip I saw the largest bull elephant I have seen to date and with what I considered to be huge tusks. Just a grand elephant!
We of course stopped and got into position to watch and photograph this gentle giant. I guess when you are that large and older you earn the right to move slower, to go at your own pace, slowly pulling Acacia leaves off the tree that you are under and watching us with one eye as he goes about his business. He eventually walked out from under the tree and into the sunlight over to the next grouping of trees. Camera shutters are going off in a rapid fire capturing every step, every movement as he simply walked from one tree to the next. He was the star and we were the paparazzi. We all looked at each other silently acknowledging that we all thought we had just gotten the perfect shot and that we had the makings for a grand painting, drawing or photograph. Satisfied we moved on.
On our way back up towards the swamp we saw him again, this time he was standing in the middle of the road that we had to go down. After about 15 minutes of patiently waiting he moved to the side of the road but just barely. We were in a great need to get back to the ranger station because our park pass was getting ready to run out so we had no choice but to get by the giant and quickly. Our guide through the land cruiser into gear and quickly got up to second gear and we raced by him… I have never in my life seen something so large move so fast! This enormous animal turned around so quickly and was facing right at us as we came parallel with him. If he had made the choice I sincerely believe that he could have with just a slight nudge turned the Land Cruiser over and kick us around just because we are silly little humans. Let me also mention that just before we made our way past him that he took a tree probably 10 inches in diameter between his trunk and tusk and simply pushed it over with what looked like no effort at all.
Even with my fellow artist that was originally on the left side of the vehicle and between me and the elephant ending up basically in my lap I pretty much got a good sequence of photos from the encounter. The elephants face is all over the picture frame because I was just pointing the camera in the general direction of the big guy, hanging on to the truck with the other hand and just basically staring at him in amazement as he turned to meet us.
Even though my encounter with this giant bull elephant was indeed exhilarating and I will forever remember him, it is not because of this event that I will be thinking of him but because of his safety. As we drove off I can remember saying, “Stay in the park big guy… please stay in the park!” He is a prime target for a poacher and I hope he can move that fast when he really needs to.
This sketch is how he looked after we had just passed him, alert, head up, tusks out and on guard.
Art to save Elephants
Thursday December 12, 2013, 9am CST - Sunday December 15, 2013 12pm CST
This sketch is currently available in the Artist Ambassadors Against Poaching “Art to save Elephants” silent auction that is being held of the AAAP FaceBook page. The silent auction runs from Thursday December 12, 2013, 9am CST – Sunday December 15, 2013, 12pm CST. Please click here to visit the page and place a bid, ALL proceeds from this auction go to African Wildlife Trust and their efforts to help save the African Elephants just like the one that i drew in this sketch. Bid often and bid high!