In the late 90s, I made a very brief trip to South Africa for work. I had one day spare while I was there and so took a trip to Pilanesburg National Park, a wildlife reserve. I spent a day driving around looking at various different wild animals, mostly at a great distance. Since it was the middle of the day, lots of the interesting stuff was out of sight. Near the end of my time there, I took a drive down a side road to a watering hole that was supposed to be popular with hippos. I find hippos fascinating so was hoping to see some. No such luck.
As I drove back up towards the main road and started contemplating a return to Johannesburg, I saw a bunch of cars on the main road that had stopped. I slowed down, figuring that they had seen something off to one side so I started looking. Sure enough, they had. An elephant was wandering through the trees and coming straight for me. I sat watching it approach. It didn’t seem bothered that I was there and came straight for the car. When I realized that it was going to come right through me, I put the car in reverse and quickly got out of the way – grabbing a close up shot as I did so. It came on to the road and turned away from me walking towards a camper van. The van soon came to the same conclusion that I had. The elephant wasn’t interested in stopping or going around them so they had to reverse up the road as the elephant paced them appropriately. Finally it turned off and I imagine they breathed a sigh of relief.
For the last two years I have been to Ano Nuevo for the sunrise photo tour amongst the elephant seals. This year I decided I didn’t need to get there before the sun came up. However, Nancy was interested in seeing them and she wanted to try getting some shots with her new Nikon P900. Therefore, we decided to take one of the other tours that occurs during the mating season, albeit during more sociable hours. We still went for the morning event and it turned out to be a good plan.
Unlike the sunrise tour, the groups are much larger and you are not driven out. Consequently, you have to carry everything you want with you. It makes picking your gear a slightly more careful decision process. The sun was out and it was a very pleasant morning. There were a few locations that the docents took us to and, while the males had picked some good locations right on the paths, we were still able to get to see a lot of the seals.
The weather had been wet which meant there was a lot of water inland and this appeals to the males who come to find a puddle to rest in and, occasionally, practice fighting. This is clearly not serious combat as the whole thing is a bit halfhearted. When you see the real fights, you are left in no doubt they mean it. We did get to see a lot of the colony and enjoy the nice weather. All in all, a pretty good second option.
When looking for a possible short getaway trip, all you need is something to trigger the choice of destination. How about the birth of a baby elephant (as opposed to a full grown elephant being born!). Indianapolis Zoo has recently put on display its latest addition to the elephants, a baby called Kalina. She is still very young and causing quite a level of interest.
So, couple of days in Indy for us then? Absolutely. I hadn’t been to Indianapolis itself before. I had driven through a couple of times and visited friends in one of the northern suburbs but downtown Indy was a new one for me. Turns out it is really quite a nice spot. More on the city in another post though.
This is about a baby elephant and so I will cut to the chase. Kalina is very cute. She makes a couple of appearances each day and there are plenty of people wanting to see her. Whether this is noticed by the animals, I don’t know but I did see a neighboring cheetah eying the events closely. Of course, he could just have been taking a look at a tasty young animal waiting to be felled!
Just like lots of young, Kalina is full of energy and exploration. She runs around a lot, a little away from mum sometimes but never too far. A regular run back to nurse can be expected. She really is quite tiny for an elephant but still a lot larger than most of us. It was interesting to see her hanging out with the keepers sitting nearby. Mum didn’t seem bothered either.
Anyway, enough of the chat, here’s the last of the pictures.