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An elephant never forgets … neither will I

A silence fell over the day.  An earthy scent mixed on the cool morning air  and I sensed a familiar calm.  It was time  to venture back into the South African bush and re-ignite my passion with this  land.  Little did I know I would fall in  love all over again, with 4000 kilograms of wrinkles.

Three African elephants that call Buffelsdrift  Lodge home eagerly awaited their breakfast.  With a bucket of fruit in hand and my breath  ready to be taken away, I approached these gentle giants in pure amazement and  awe.

Having seen elephants up close from a game viewing  vehicle, the first thing that blew me away was the sheer size of these animals as  I stood next to them.  I looked up at the  towering mass of wrinkles caked in dried mud from his last visit to the waterhole.

My eyes were met by a big brown friendly eye which  was guarded by the longest lashes I have seen.  To stare into an African elephant’s eye like  that brought tears to my eyes.  What a  magical connection.

Holding the gaze and feeling as if he felt it too,  the elephant lifted his enormous trunk and wrapped it around me in a welcoming  elephant hug.  Smelling of an earthy musk,  the heavy trunk rested around me awhile.

The folds of wrinkles felt rough like leather, covered  by coarse hair.  Unable to help myself, I  gave him a kiss on the trunk before rewarding him with a tasty treat of pear.

Encouraged by the guide who watched over the  encounter, I stuck my hand curled around a pear into the elephant’s mouth.  Not letting go of the prized treat straight  away, I rubbed his tongue teasingly.  This  triggered him to open his mouth wider; a deadly pair of tusks cradled me from  under his trunk.

Toying with an animal that could crush me instantly  didn’t seem wise and so I released the pear onto his tongue.  At that moment I am almost certain I saw him  smile, which extended to a smiling glint in his eyes.  He was happy, and so was I.

After the personal encounter with the elephants it  was time to take a stroll along the dam wall down to the waterhole.  I could see the elephants enjoyed the  interaction as much as I did, and couldn’t wait to see these mighty mammals  moving freely.

Walking a slow peaceful saunter between such gigantic  masses was humbling.  Each lift of the elephant’s  foot seemed careful and measured and was placed down again as gently as it took  off.  They were footsteps that had such  purpose, direction and meaning.

The elephant interaction was one of the most  amazing experiences I have had in South Africa to date.  They say an elephant never forgets, and  neither will I.