There is a place that more impresses me on my journey through southern Africa. This is a camp in Botswana , more precisely the Elephant Sands . There are many camps in which we have assembled and dismantled our tents, which we reached at sunset and abandoned at the first light of dawn, but here two things happened that struck me and amazed me so much that it made it an unforgettable place for me.
Let’s go in order, starting from the first topical moment that coincides exactly with our arrival at the Elephant Sands Lodge & Campsite. In fact, as soon as we get off the truck, we take just a few steps and we find ourselves facing a large pool of water where we are drinking splendid specimens of elephant . We can not believe how close we were to approach and observe them closely. We are there, leaning against a wall of stone that defines the perimeter of access to the pool, motionless, a bit incredulous and at the same time enchanted in front of these majestic mammals.
Two concepts on what are the largest land animals. First of all it must be said that there are two species of elephants, the Indian and the African ones. Obviously, those we have been lucky enough to observe from such a short distance are those in Africa. The African elephant can be quickly distinguished from the Indian elephant because of its larger size. Even the ears are larger, so that they can reach a length of 1.5 m. The African elephant is taller, has a wrinkled skin and both sexes have fangs, while in Indian specimens are present only in the male, and the proboscis has only one lobe, instead of two. Males reach a height between 3/4 meters ,while the females, these little ones, reach a height that is around 2.5 meters. Characteristic of this species is the possessing large and mobile ears that frequently wave.
Unfortunately, it is up to me to disillusion those who, witnessing this wave of ears, have thought of a courteous form of greeting. In reality, this movement serves the elephants to lower the blood temperature of their body.
The elephants consume 225 kg of fodder a day and drink 190 liters of water , which is why they can often be seen around the rare pools of water and this is also why their stay in these places often drag on for a long time. The water is sucked from the proboscis fundamental organ for most of its activities, and then it is thrown into the mouth. Very versatile, the proboscis is also used to emit recalls, to lighten trees in order to create a passage and tear off leaves.
But the characteristic that, more than any other, struck me in the elephants, is their stealthy step. I did not miss the term, I wrote a sweatshirt. Contrary to what reason would suggest to these giants, the progression of elephants is silent and delicate, so much so that even in total silence it is difficult to realize their presence. In fact, despite having set up the tents very close to the water, none of us heard noises during the night indicating their passage, although in the morning the signs were very clear on the sand all around.