The elephant is one of the animals we see on safari that really commands your attention. Whether it be a big bull sauntering down the road, making sure you know he has right of way, or a family group moving through the vegetation, with bodies of all sizes, from the enormous matriarch to the tiniest baby stumbling to keep up.
For me personally, one of the most memorable experiences when it comes to elephant is if you are lucky enough to come across a herd with a youngster overflowing with attitude and confidence, telling you off for just existing. These little creatures obviously don’t realise how absolutely adorable they are as they try with all their might to intimidate these big green creatures that drive around the game reserve.
Lifting their heads as high as possible, looking down their trunk at you with the most intense glare. This is sometimes how an adult gives a warning, lifting the tusks to face directly forward, making their weapons visible to a potential threat… But with no tusks yet to speak of, it’s not quite as scary.
Their ears flap forward, standing to attention on either side of the head to make the animal look as big as possible so anything thinks twice about messing with them. A head shake for good measure will also bring home the point that they mean business.
Some even practice their charging skills, often feeling the need to make a speedy retreat back to the safety of their mother’s side, because she is never far behind, keeping a calm yet watchful eye on her little warrior.
You see these behaviours often from a big male elephant approaching a challenger or a female before her family crosses a road in front of you.
So, these very impressionable “children” are learning these intimidation techniques from the adults which surround them, and practicing, trying their hand at intimidating us as we innocently watch them.