Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Savour the moment - a close encounter with an elephant in Tarangire

              By Jules Knocker

We sat and waited in complete silence as the solitary male elephant ambled along between the acacia trees in our direction. Early morning and no other cars around to stress him nor to rob us of the exquisite moment. He was happy to take his time, as he followed a meandering game trail towards the track. We were happy to wait and accept whatever he offered us.
The elephant wandered out and stopped, inches in front of the car, then turned his head calmly, to consider us. His drooping eyes opened wide for a brief moment and the rising sun caught the full beauty of that ruby chestnut colour, usually hidden behind long lashes. He slowly brought up his trunk and reached over to the windscreen. We savoured the moment, almost feeling the rough and the smooth, as he whiffled the end of his trunk over us for a few seconds, before losing interest and slowly scrunching away in the sand – looking for that tasty acacia seedpod or an early morning tipple in the river.

We were all transfixed with the sheer majesty of the moment, to be so close to an elephant that was at peace with itself and its surrounds. To be accepted as part of the landscape and to be included, in such a natural way, in his perambulations was a moment to savour for always.

......And we never got a photograph. Despite the fact that we were holding the cameras all ready, it never crossed our minds to raise them and record the moment. If we had, I suspect we would not have been touched so fundamentally by that brief, magical moment of sharing. While the camera will keep your memories safe for the future, and your memories fade over time, the sad fact is the lens, between your eye and your experience, keeps you at one stage removed from whatever you are photographing at all times.

Sometimes, it is better just to sit and enjoy.

Our Tarangire elephant - the only shot we took, when he was about 40 yards away

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