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Some of the herd members get up to no good

Some of the herd members get up to no good

Jabu - Guest interaction

Jabulani interacting with guests

Jabu the pickpocket

We always make a point of introducing the guests to their rides prior to going on walk. It’s only polite after all. Jabulani is our elephant of choice for these ‘getting to know you’ demonstrations, as he’s such a mild-mannered sort. The thing is, the fact that’s he’s so laidback also means he can get up to no good without anyone noticing. The other day I was in the middle of my introductory talk when Jabu spied a sunglasses case in one of the guests’ hands. Eventually his curiosity got the better of him, and he ever so quietly slipped his trunk out and nabbed it from her. Fortunately the sunglasses themselves were perched on her head at the time, especially as they were of the rather expensive variety. Poor old Jabulani was clearly very disappointed with his booty; because he spat it back out almost as quickly as he’d put it in. He probably thought it was a ‘supersized’ version of the little treats the grooms have on hand to reward the elephants for doing something well.

Limpopo the escape artist

Limpopo leaving the stables legally (she’s the bigger one bossily nudging her friend along)

Limpopo the escape artist

We arrived back from a night walk recently to find little Miss Limpopo wandering up and down the stable hallway. I immediately assumed that someone hadn’t locked her stall properly, and prepared myself to issue the guilty party with a stern lambasting. I went straight to her stall to put the escapee back inside, and to my absolute amazement discovered the gate still securely locked. The grooms and I were all completely flummoxed. After putting her back inside her stall, we wandered off a short way to discuss how she could possibly have escaped. And that’s when she demonstrated her Houdini skills for all of us to see. We’d moved her into Sompani’s old stall, which only has one horizontal bar running around it. Being such a big elephant, he didn’t require anything more than that to keep him from going anywhere. Now at 5-years-old Limpopo might still be a baby, but she’s by no means a small girl. After all, elephants grow at a pretty rapid rate.

What the shrewd little toddler had figured out was that the stall to her one side was empty, which meant the gate wouldn’t be locked. So all she had to do was get down on her knees and squeeze herself under the horizontal bar, and she’d be on the home stretch to freedom. This was no mean feat however, and required a fair amount of huffing, puffing and squeezing before she eventually made her way to the other side. Needless to say Limpopo has since been relocated to more secure digs. Her herd mates are very happy about this, because she used to spend her ‘free’ time strolling up and down stealing their food. Click here to see more photos of our herd and other goings-on at the lodge.

Until next time,

Iain

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