Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mac On the Move: Week Six

22 May 2008
Yesterday I managed to treat myself to a day with Mac as he was close to Tanda Tula Safari Camp where we are based. At first he followed a breeding herd of elephant cows and later, we caught some great audio of Mac cooling off with a mud bath,
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We had a wonderful day which started out with Mac following the Rocks and Gem breeding herd. Each adult female within the herd has the name of gems or precious stones like Opal, Topaz, Moonstone etc. Although Mac was clearly following them, he preferred to keep behind them at some distance.

He seemed to keep to his own pace and routines even though he made sure that he was never too far from the cows. We suspect that he didn't find any scent trails of oestrus cows in this herd even though he was clearly interested in staying close to them.

We spent a long time close to him while he took his daily mud and sand bath. You can hear the incredible audio clip of him slapped the thick sticky black mud onto his hot body. After transforming himself into an ebony elephant he went for a sand bath during which time he rhythmically blew red dust onto himself. If I was not there to take the pictures for myself I would have thought that the colours of the photographs could not have been real. With the African blue sky as the back-drop, Mac became flecked with gold as the red dust that he sucked up with his trunk and blew over himself came to settle on his mud black body.

We had Marlene McCay, the south African representative of Save the Elephants, with us. She constantly whispered in gratitude 'What a blessing, what a blessing' as Mac walked close to our vehicle and then stood facing us while he painted himself with 'war paint' only a few meters from were we all sat, absolutely mesmerized.

Later that evening we left him still trailing behind the Rock and Gems. When we next catch up with him he may have decided to stick with this herd until a cow comes into oestrus or perhaps he would have gone in search of another herd which offers him more mating opportunities....

Take care
Michelle Henley