Thursday, February 17, 2011

My encounter with an elephant

2011.02.17 AM

Dear All,

I thought I should share with you my experiences from this morning.

04:45 AM : Wake up call!

04:55 AM Coffee Time!

05:00 AM : Getting Ganda and the 3D rig up to speed and ready for action!

05:30 AM: WE go LIVE!

Nice start of the day, watching the sunrise over the horizon and over Kruger National Park. Patrick and I took a few seconds to enjoy this magnificent view. Both of us had no idea of what was waiting for us ahead.

A few minutes later we bumped into a gentle giant! Mister Jumbo, like Patrick usually calls him, was feeding on a marula tree a few metres away from Ganda. It is funny to see how greedy these big creatures can be and how gentle they can be with their trunk and their feet. So I tried to pass on this feeling through the lens and I managed to get a few very nice close ups, especially on his eye. I must admit, there is something about an elephant eye that I really like….so small compared to the animal size, ‘peaceful’ and ‘graceful’ would be the right words to describe it for me. So I apologise if I tend to do a lot of close ups on elephant eyes but there is just something about them that I love sharing with all of you.

We must have spent a good half an hour with him before he decided to leave us. And when he did, he did with beauty….He was standing on our right hand side, more or less 5 metres away from Ganda. I was busy focusing on his feet and getting every details of his nails when I suddenly realised that he was now moving towards us. I quickly zoomed out to realise that he was now two metres away from us, going towards the back of the car. I took a few seconds to take my eyes away from my monitor and actually look at what was happening in front of me….WOW…Two metres is pretty close to you when it is 3 metres high and weighs a few tons! All I could see was his eye looking straight at me…I have never seen an elephant eye so close to me before. He walked pass us behind Ganda which means that I was seating less than two metres away from him for a few seconds. We both looked at each other for maybe two or three seconds…one of the most intense eye contact I ever had! Have you had the feeling that someone or something is reading through you? Well, I did get that feeling this morning…it seemed like he could see my soul!! I believe it is not a too dark one because he remained very peaceful…I remember Patrick saying “I am going to keep quite now cause he is walking pass right behind us”…That did not make me feel very safe by the way :)

I remember thinking “and what if now he decides to swing his trunk at me?”….My heart skipped a bit for a second or two and I bet he heard it and went “Ah ah ah…little one…not feeling that brave anymore hey?”

What an experience!! I really loved it. It lasted all in all maybe 10 seconds but WOW…10 intense seconds which actually felt like 10 minutes! Like Patrick said, at one stage his bum must have been a few inches away from the spare wheel!!

Thank you for this Mister Jumbo. I will remember our encounter and our eye contact for the rest of my life. Thank you for being so gentle and so understanding. And thank you for not finding my soul too dark ;)



  1. Sebastien, what interesting thoughts you have recorded about your encounter with the elephant! It must have wanted that intense communication with you. I believe you must have passed a special kind of "test" with flying colors!!

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