Francis whispered... “Hmm, that is the bad one.”
He continued... “This guy does not like people... I don’t think he is going to move. We need to wait here.”
The sun was fading. We were on the tail end of a day-long game drive and were making our way towards a tented camp on the perimeter of the Mara. I was shooting a serene elephant-scape in some sweet light, but it was time to move on.
This was another great elephant day.
During midday, we photographed lonely bachelor males meandering across the savanna. While the harsh light was a challenge to expose, I knew that black and white processing would emphasize the character of their wrinkled skin pocked by sun dried clay and mud.
While we did not have a repeat performance of elephant babes playing tug with their trunks, we were fortunate to see families traversing the Mara’s rich fields and acacia forests. You just can’t see too many elephants... there is something about the massive bodies, expressive eyes, and tender interactions that captivate the imagination.
But now,... we were face to face with the “Bad One.”
Armed rangers, charged with protecting the park’s inhabitants, were now between us and it. Francis whispered again, “That one will tip their truck... he does not like the Rangers.” The elephant moved closer, and the Rangers threw their car in reverse. The truck ran scared as the Rangers violated their own rules, rules that would cost Francis his license if he were to follow. The park vehicle moved off the road, drove along the riverbed and made a wide turn around the approaching pachyderm. They were safe... we were not.
The monster seemed to be a caricature of himself... a giant bully with a torn ear, massive head, and a nasty disposition. Was it minutes or hours, I’m not sure... but we waited as he stared, approached, and stared again. I could see that Francis was assessing our limited options... reverse..., traverse..., stand our ground... We stood our ground, and the monster continued it’s approach.
We three,... Tamy, my mother, and I looked at each other. I could see the thought cloud billowing above our collective heads... Now What?... What good are those Rangers?... The elephant walked closer.
We were within ten meters of each other when Francis shifted the truck in reverse. He eased the vehicle back... we gave ground... we said “uncle.” The bully understood; he won and he knew it. Confident of his supremacy, the monster walked off the road and joined his family. Humbled by the power of the one, we drove off into the sunset and rejoiced in surviving this last stand.
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