Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gentle Giraffes [Massingir Part 4]

"Don't you think you've given those elephants at the waterhole enough attention, already?  I'm over here.  I've been watching you for ages.  If you follow me, I'll lead you to my friends..."
"Come along then!  I haven't got all day, you know!"
Please click the Read more button below to continue this post...
"OK!  We've arrived!  Get those cameras ready..."

"Oh, guys...don't be shy!  These humans are quite friendly and they only want to take your picture!"

"That's right...stand together nicely!  Look this way!"

"Lovely, lovely!  We're all done may continue on your way!"

I felt it only fair allowing these gentle giants to claim a little limelight at the beginning of this entry, as  the elephants we'd been observing had had a fairly good innings themselves...however, there  were a couple of very interesting facts I'd hoped to share with you before the giraffe interrupted, if you'll bear with me a moment longer, could we please return to the waterhole and elephants, and pick up from where we'd left off...

Oh, look!  While we were off viewing giraffe, the elephants brought their calves down to drink.  If we hadn't returned, we'd have missed seeing this!   
And...Oh, my Goodness!  Do you see what I've spotted, over on the far side of the bank???
A family of crocodiles, sunbathing!

Looks like this one's on the move...quick, focus those cameras!  I think we're in for some action over there!

Yes, that big boy is definitely on his way down to the water's edge...

I don't know about you, but I'm jolly glad we're well out of his reach on this side of the bank! 

Quick! Watch!

Plop! And there he goes, into the water!
After that interesting interlude, I really do want to get back to what it was I'd wanted to tell you...lest some other visitor arrives to steal the show!

No, no!  We've seen you today already, Mrs G.  Please go away, now!  I'm trying to tell my guests a story!!
We recently watched a segment in a popular, local documentary programme (Carte Blanche), in which we learnt that elephants possess a sense of smell 14  times more acute than that of dogs and 28,000 times stronger than humans.  This ability is currently being harnessed by an ex-Zimbabwean farmer, Rory Hensman and his son Sean, who now reside in South Africa, having lost their wildlife farm in Zimbabwe during Robert Mugabe's illustrious 'land-grab'. 
An elephant calf being led to the waterhole.
Using gentle, loving methods, based on a system of reward whilst harnessing the natural behaviour of the elephants, Rory and Sean have successfully trained their current, rescued herd (these elephants were to have been culled!) to sniff out landmines and track poachers over distances as great as 16 kilometres, all with a 100% success rate.  
According to Rory, elephants are incredibly intelligent and can learn up to a 100 verbal commands and over 1,000 words!
Additionally, the saying, 'an elephant never forgets', has now also been put to the test by this father/son team and proven.  We observed a young, female elephant being introduced to the Carte Blanche presenter, Derek Watts.  The trainer clearly said the name of the person being introduced ('This is Derek'), and the elephant smelt him.  Eight hours later, the elephant had no difficulty in recognising and identifying Derek, when asked to return an item of clothing belonging to him.  Derek was standing in a group with three others, all of whom were introduced to the elephant that day. The elephant unhesitatingly walked up to Derek and offered him his 'missing' item of clothing.  This was put to the test even further by asking the elephant to, 'give Derek's shoe to Sue', another of the people the elephant had met earlier that day.  Again, this was performed in an instant!   In other words, the elephant is able to unfailingly recall both the name and face of any human to whom he has been introduced, and match this to the smell of any item of clothing belonging to the person, and given to the elephant to be returned to the correct owner.  The elephant is able to hold this memory for up to 26 months after just a single introduction.  Uncanny!!

An elephant never forgets!!!

Please don't YOU forget to return for the next part of this excursion :)




  1. Wonderful post! The giraffes are so beautiful and how amazing about the intelligence of the elephants!

  2. Wonderful !!!...have a nice day darling...and sure i come back !!

  3. Amazing! We also have a saying in Romanian "an elephant-like memory", but I had no idea these creatures were capable of so much. I'm still trying to train my dog :)

    The giraffes really liked being the center of attention and posed very gracefully. The crocodiles were really something too.

    Again, beautiful pictures and story. Thanks for sharing, I'll be looking forward for the next parts of the trip.

  4. You KNOW I'll be back! Great wildlife pictures, especially the giraffes! You live in the most amazing place, and your narration is such fun to read.

  5. Mrs G and her friends are just gorgeous - so obliging for the cameras too!
    I'm always fascinated how their markings are different on each giraffe, just like the zebras' stripes.

    What a feeling to be just over the bank from that family of crocodiles. Brilliant photos!

    As for the elephants and the work that Rory and Sean are doing with them, well, it's nothing short of astounding.
    Desiree, I really appreciated being able to read about this research. To think that these great creatures were to be culled. The incredible things in life/nature that happen.
    Thank you :D

  6. Tell us something about the elephant's hearing- they have awfully big ears!

  7. Interesting question, Michael & Hanne!
    Apparently, elephants use their ears, trunks and feet to detect sound! They are truly remarkable animals...but as their sight is not very good, they require specs for reading :)

  8. OOPS! I also omitted an important fact regarding the SIZE of an elephant's ears - they are integral to an elephant being able to maintain its body temperature - they serve as a cooling device, much like the radiator of a car, apparently :)

    Isn't nature marvellous!!

  9. It must be marvelous to see these magnificent creatures in their habitat! Sadly the only ones I have seen have been in captivity.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I hope you come often!!

  10. Amazing pictures....the giraf was the first animal in the wild that i have seen when i was in Kenia....
    I'm looking out for youre blog....i really love it...
    Untill next time..
    Love and greetings from Bianca

  11. Oh what lovely narration and great facts too. I wish I could remember everyones name when I was introduced! I need to be more elephant like! Giraffes are my favourite and I remember being at a camp with my mom and going for an early morning walk. On the way back there were three giraffe blocking the road. With my heart in my mouth I just walked on, and they stepped aside to let me pass. Awesome memory I have of that, even though I was so scared at the time.

  12. Thats amazing! The elephants are fantastic. You have given us some great facts that I never knew. Very very interesting

  13. Shoot - typed a long comment and then it was gone. poof!

    Argh - one more time:

    The giraffes are really regal, in my opinion. I have an attachment to deer and these animals seem like enormous regal deer to me. I loved the narrative - gave them a lot of character.

    And the elephants - wow! I've always wanted to believe they were really smart. How wonderful to know it's so. Interesting to imagine how different their brains must work if that much of memory is attached to the sense of smell.

    And - the crocs... I have seen a lot of aligators, but the way the crocs grin is more intimidating, in my opinion.

    I would love to do something like this one of these days. Maybe I will make it there eventually.

  14. Your wildlife is ever so much more wonderful than most people's! Thank you so much for sharing.


  15. wow, Desiree! it amazes me...all the wildlife you have there!! everything is SO MUCH BIGGER in your part of the world! :]
    sure, we have our share of critters...creatures...where i'm at...the bugs! lizards! alligators! birds! smaller furry creatures too...but to SEE a giraffe on the road!! an elephant!! wow!! i LOVE it!!
    and you know what...i think elephants LOOK like they'd never forget!
    thanks for all the exciting journeying!!

  16. What a joy this 'trip' is turning out to be. I love giraffes - they look the most unlikely creatures, like a fantasy animal.

  17. Wow! That was awesome! Love the pictures. I always knew that elephants were smart, I just didn't realize just HOW smart. I've always found giraffes to be so fascinating. I couldn't even tell you why, but they're so regal. The crocodiles...umm all I can say is they're great...from a distance. : - )

  18. That is incredible! I had no idea that elephants were so intelligent! Thank you. I am learning so much from this journey!

  19. I loved all the pictures. All of these animals are just beautiful. I didn't know any of those things about elephants and their sense of smell and how good their memory is. Really interesting!

  20. I love the photo with the bird on the giraffe's neck. The other was cool, too, though.

  21. What a fun and informative post! It's too bad those people's land was taken away, though.


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