Ebony and Ivory. Black and White. Remember the Beatles song composed by Paul McCartney? Named “Song of the Century” this song assumes more relevance as South Africa struggled out of apartheid to give more meaning to the song’s message of whites and blacks living in harmony.
From Cape Town through Barrydale and Oudtshoorn to Knysna with sleepovers along the way in the lovely landscape, seascape and flynbo gardens of South Africa. I wanted to see them elephants in the wilds. So, why here in Knysna Elephant Park?
Well, these are abandoned elephants now cared for in a controlled but free-range environment just outside the lovely town of Knysna. For a few rands, you can buy buckets of apples and oranges to feed the elephants. Amazing how these young mahouts trained these animals to stand behind a metal bar, waiting to be fed, every time a tractor “van” unloads park visitors. My only regret is that the baby elephants are blocked out by the bigger ones come feeding time. Once I tried feeding the baby who was reaching out with his trunk to pick up an orange, only to be loudly and angrily shooed off by the adult elephant. The not so little one scampered off. Hungry. Poor baby. 😒🐘
I’m sure it’s an altogether different experience seeing them in a wildlife park. But the vastness of this park assumes a natural habitat where they graze freely, even if their residents are a little spoiled and “bucket-fed” by park visitors. Since you can’t get up close to one in the wilds without risking being trampled upon by these beasts, this experience is good for first-timers like us. Interestingly, many safari accidents involved elephants more than lions, leopards or some other fierce animals. Just remember that an elephant’s foot, measured in circumference, multiplied by 2.5 approximates its height. So, if you’re following some elephant tracks in the wilds, you’d have an estimation of this animal’s size.
Feeding the elephants should be an exciting experience for kids. If I was thrilled getting an elephant’s trunk hover and snatch up the orange on my palm, what kid won’t? Yet for all its size, I am amazed how gently and quietly these big animals move. A big one can sneak right behind you and snatch that apple or orange before you’re ready! One actually nudged one of the ladies, nearly pushing her back with the elephant’s trunk. Naughty elephant! so remember NEVER to turn your back on an elephant. 🐘🐘🐘
Gentle giants. That’s what they are. Moody, maybe. But they have such a sweet, endearing nature. Men as predators of these gentle creatures make me sick. Those beautiful tusks are their curse. Many of the elephants in Knysna Park were orphaned when poachers killed their parents to retrieve those prized ivory tusks. Knysna provided a sanctuary for them. One can only wish time will come when these animals are spared from poaching and allowed to live in the wilds without the threat of extinction.
TRIVIA: Male elephants are called bulls. Females are cows. And the baby elephants are calves. Just like cattle. When you see a herd of elephants, it’s likely the adult elephants are cow elephants. All female. Why? The bull elephants stay with the herd only till the young reach puberty. Then they’re on their own, coming back only for mating purposes. Those bastards! (Excuse my French)