I’ve always been a lover of Elephants for as long as I can remember. As a kid, back when I was an only child, (0-10yrs old), my mom took me and my cousins; 6 of us in total at the time, to the circus. Every Easter. I would be so excited to see the clowns and mainly the Elephants. It wasn’t until I got a little bit older that I learned about the mistreatment in the way the animals were trained. Just so they could entertain us. Needless to say, I eventually stopped going to the circus. I also stopped going to the Zoo. Something I also looked forward to each year during school trips.
As I grew up, became a Mom, then ventured onto a ‘Spiritual Journey‘, where I found out Elephants were my “Spiritual Animal“, I loved them even more. Seeing them Live and in person was added to my BUCKET LIST. I’d watch tons of documents on them. I wanted to see them in their natural habitat. Maybe One day. I dreamed of seeing where they lived; how they lived… This year, I finally got the opportunity when I took a trip to South Africa.
Earlier this year, my 1st born daughter, my mom, my 3 sisters and a few friends all took a trip to Africa. We started in Senegal, then spent a few days in Ghana and ended our trip in South Africa. Visiting the Motherland had been on my BUCKET LIST ever since my Auntie Bubbles lived there during my teens. I was Stoked to be able to make the top 2 things on this LIST come True. We did a lot of amazing things but the Highlight was visiting Pilanesberg National Park
The morning of the visit, we were picked up in a van from our hotel by our tour guide for the day, Simon. It was very early in the morning. We had a 3hr drive, give or take, as well as a long day ahead of us. Of course I called Shot-Gun and sat in the front passenger seat, which, by the way, is on the Left side. I was super excited. Fidgety, talking nonstop. Nervous. This allowed me to get to know Simon a little better, too. I found his life interesting. In turn, we told him what it was like living in America. We were not his first Americans but I Promise you, We were the Most Memorable Favorites! (That’s not up for Debate!)
When we arrived at Pilanesberg National Park, we all got out to stretch. Then I began getting my Point & Shoot camera ready. My cell phone for audio and I had to make sure my binoculars were in focused, lenses were cleaned and strap was secured around my neck. I knew we wouldn’t be getting out the van but I wanted to be prepared. Before we got back into the van I took some scenic shots and braced myself.
Simon told us Pilanesberg which equates to a Jungle, is, “an area specifically reserved for the wildlife. Its manmade. It use to be farmland but back in the early 1970’s the government thought, ‘we need to create a Reserve to protect the Wildlife,’ so they relocated the farmers somewhere else.” Although there are Groundkeepers, the animals have minimum human interference. They’re not fed by the Groundkeepers. If the animals are injured or are sick, or when they are hunted by locals and get caught in traps, of course, that’s when they will help them out.
Elephants don’t have any natural enemies but us humans, really. However they are manipulators of their environment. They can be destructive at times. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because when they push over trees and dig up stuff, the other animals that otherwise couldn’t reach these fruits, and branches, now have access to them at ground level.
The females run the herds. “As She Should!” (in my mothers voice). When you see a big herd its usually the Matriarch, mom, sisters aunts, cousins. They are family orientated and like to stick together. They are highly social animals so if you kill or harm one then you have a serious problem on your hands. I told Simon, they must be similar to a black family. lol.
Before getting to the Elephants, we drove around this Jungle and seen the Hippos, some Exotic Birds, Zebras, Giraffes, Impalas, as Simon gave us information about each of them. We learned so much. About a hour and 30 minutes into the ride we finally spotted the Elephants. I wanted to scream. Good thing is that the animals seen the van we were in as an object and not something that can and would harm them. I felt safe. Until the end but I’ll explain that in a minute.
We drove slowly. There were Elephants on our right. They were in front of us. They were minding their own business as we stalked them. Eating. Playing. Taking care of the baby Elephants in tow. Their ears flapped. Their stride was slow. Some made Trumpet sounds. They spoke in their language as they communicated to each other. I don’t think I even blinked the entire sighting because I didn’t want to miss a thing. I took some really great shots.
We spent a long time enjoying watching the Elephants. I appreciate my group of family and friends for allowing us to spend the amount of time that we did. I know it was all for me. It started getting late so we started to head back to the Manyane Gate of Pilanesberg National Park where we would grab a late lunch and buy souvenirs. As we started to leave the Elephants, they started walking towards us. A herd of them. All of the Elephants we’d been admiring. I had my camera in my hand and started recording. I realize now how easy it is to be in a panic and decide to record. I mean, 9-1-1 wouldn’t be able to help us. I would at least have video. (SMH)
I knew something wasn’t right but I was playing it cool. The Matriarch started flapping her ears. Simon was explaining that she was just cooling herself off. Then one got behind us and he was like, “Shit. Now what do I do?”… Simon started backing up as soon as the Elephant that was behind us moved. We started raising all the windows up. It was about 5 adults and 2 babies ready to attack. They were moving towards us in a tight pack. Simon said we were stuck. My mom was in the back asking him if he could ‘FLOOR’ it. Of course he couldn’t. We had no where to go.
Here is the actual video so you can see how scary this experience was. Yet, Exciting and we made it out alive (Thank You, Lord) and now I have a unique story to tell. Check it Out: Elephants Scare in S Africa February, 3rd 2023
This trip was by far one of the best trips I’ve ever taken in my life. If you ever get a chance to visit South Africa, I strongly recommend you visit Pilanesberg National Park. Check the link above to see the hotel accommodations they have for those of you that don’t mind sleeping in the Jungle. I love the Elephants and Wildlife but I’m not that brave.
Here is a video slide link for more pictures. Pilanesberg National Park WildLife
Thank you for reading my experience. Be sure to tell a friend to tell a friend by sharing this blog. Follow me on Social Media @BklynTyeNYC where I will be posting more pictures and videos. Subscribe to my website: WHATs THE WORD (Blog & Podcast).
If you are an Elephant Lover like me, Check out the National Geographic, 4 part episode series on HULU. Here is the link: Secrets of the Elephants on HULU
And As Always,
SPREAD LOVE, ITS THE BKLYNTYE WAY