This morning was our last at Hluhluwe River Lodge (www.hluhluwe.co.za/), an accommodation we’d recommend to anyone wishing to stay in the region.
Beautiful wooden tables
A view from the bath tub.
Incredible food and lovely hosts left behind, our destination was Bayeto Zulu Elephant Interaction (www.bayetezulu.co.za/pages/3338/elephant-interaction).
Second time lucky: with the correct instructions, our destination was attained.
Upon entering the gates to this park, the group was informed to walk along the path to avoid the electric fences set in place to protect the visitors from attack by unexpected visitors.
Awaiting in our seats, we were held awestruck at the sight of these massive herbivores ‘racing’ over the hill in their excitement.
Their first action upon arrival was to inhale a trunk full of water from the waiting buckets, then promptly squirt it over their hot dry dust encrusted bodies.
The male elicited a sense of humour as, narrowly missing his ducking keeper, a blast of water burst from his trunk, saturating those who chose the front row.
The three year old, was adorable as she rested upon her mother’s flank.
The story of these two adults was quite a tale. As with our kangaroos, there are areas where over occupation occurs and this is detrimental to the environment: sadly culling must occur to ensure an even balance is maintained.
The herd – or for more correct terminology, parade – to which this pair and an additional two belonged was targeted for this procedure. No – one knows how, but this small group of four caught on to what was going to occur, raced into the bush and hid until late in the evening. Once sure the culling was completed, the foursome reappeared in the camp. With it being so late, the decision was made to eliminate the group the following morning.
Again, fortune was with them: in that short period, the people had fallen in love.
Now safe, the remaining elephants were shipped to a game park whereupon they received a great deal of interaction with humans. Over the years, they were moved to a number of locations.
At times released back into a reserve with the expectation that they would rehabilitate, this sadly was not to be. Unable to cope without human interaction, they sought that closeness by going in search of people. Two became classified as rogue and were euthanised.
Bayeto Zulu came to the rescue of the remaining two. Nowadays, each have an individual keeper who is with them from 4am to 6pm each day of the year. The elephants roam freely during this time, whilst their keepers follow behind.
They are so attached to their people that when one keeper left, the elephant in question went to his hut daily in search of him for three months. In another incident, when a lion had the intent of attacking a keeper, his elephant attack the predator.
With the ‘bubs’ now making three, we visitors are a much required part of their daily regimen.
Over the duration of two hours, Bob and I had the most awe inspiring time as we touched and fed all three of these wondrous creatures.
The cheeky devil had a little fun…..
A bit of food placed upon the head with an aim to cool…..
A look in the mouth by one of the group….
A kindly lady was brave enough to use Big Bertha whilst we had our turn.
The ears felt like velvet…..
Mouth opened wide, awaiting a bite…..
In it went.
Now for the bubs
In all, an awe inspiring experience.