Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
We’re driving with a spotter and guide sporting a hefty rifle at the front of our patrol. There, ahead of us, stand seven elephants bathing themselves at a watering hole. The click of my camera fills the silence between their splashes of water. Staring in the faces of these monstrous animals, I can hardly fathom their level of intelligence and awareness. We clearly attracted the attention of one of the protective mothers as she slowly moves toward us, ears flapping, feet stamping, a ‘mock’ charge. More charge, less mock this time. Our driver turns on the engine and begins to floor it backwards. This is not a joke. This elephant is wild. This elephant is angry. Out here we are nothing but observers, exposed to the elements of the natural world. My heart pounds with the excitement of the moment watching this elephant chase after us like a mother scorned as her small offspring runs through her legs unaware of the disturbance. In order that we no longer trouble these normally gentle giants, we drive off into another region of the park.