NAME: Keith Connelly
DIARY ENTRIES: 5
PHOTOS UPLOADED: 450
VIDEOS UPLOADED: 4
CURRENT COMPANY: Motswari
Elephants by Perigee Moon
“For the person for whom small things do not exist, the great is not great.”
When it comes to super moons and mega pachyderms surely not a truer word can be spoken. For the most part a trip from the lodge to our guide accommodation is a stitch in time: something filling the gap between the last lantern being blown out and our tired eyes crashing into a pillow.
These are the smaller things of our passion so often overlooked. I often think of the times where sleep may take preference over a sneaky civet or an ever-evasive honey badger... so much is missed.
So when nature offers up something quite unreal such as this week’s Perigee Moon the smaller things such as a simple drive from the lodge to a comfy bed is bound to offer up something quite magical.
The Moon rise on that evening’s drive was something quite spectacular with a fantastic red hue and a very impressive girth as it rose over the Kransberg on the southern side of Marakele. After a fairly short night of hosting, our Chef Jessie and I were beating a hasty retreat to our accommodations in the Kameeldraai section of the reserve.
Rounding a corner the familiar sound of cracking timber gave away the forward legions of a rather large breeding herd of elephant. The breeding herds in this area of Marakele are well known for their skittish and somewhat testy temperaments so I was quite pleasantly surprised when the bulk of the herd started to appear in a clearing at a big four way junction. With the super moon bursting with light in the middle of the sky, the scene was completely surreal, and with the engine and lights off we were comfortably positioned as the 30 strong group moved out into the open.
Atypical of herds in the area they appeared completely relaxed with not even a sign of a head raised in disgust. They casually moved past uttering their completely soothing rumbles and communications. With us in the middle of them out popped a barley week-old calf still questioning it’s confidence to leave its mothers side. The moonlight gave the scene an almost mystical quality and as soon as they had arrived they vanished into the misty opaque bush. The straggling bulls then began to slowly melt into the open area as if they themselves were walking on the pillows my head had so desired a few minutes earlier. The procession of bulls gave a clear indication of the complexities of elephant pecking orders with the rambunctious younger boys leading the charge after the ladies followed by the ever-so-cool adolescents with their usual indignance for anything with four wheels. Then as if a spell was cast, silence fell on the open area as a monstrous bull entered the scene. He arrived displaying full musth (a hormonal condition of sexual readiness). The younger and smaller bulls seemed to realise the king was present and immediately gave way to his majesty.
Just as soon as it had begun it was over, them leaving us with one last trumpet echoing through the valleys of the Kransberg. There in the spectacular Perigee moonlight we were left contemplating the magnificent moment that a small and seemingly insignificant trip home could offer.