September 25, 2015
A Desert Elephant Encounter
- as seen by -Tim Lewthwaite
I was in Damaraland in northwest Namibia. It was a hot day, and there was little to see but the blue sky and the rugged land. Not much rain falls in this part of the world, and the seasonal rivers run dry for most of the year.
It was crossing one of these dried-out riverbeds that I had a memorable encounter with one of the world famous desert adapted elephants that call the region home.
A bull elephant stood quietly browsing on one of the hardy mopane trees that clung to the side of the long dry riverbed. Once considered a separate subspecies, desert adapted elephants are now recognized as African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana). They do have certain adaptations to their harsh environment, including smaller body size, longer legs and broader feet.
Anytime I find myself in the company of elephants is special. To catch a bull elephant peacefully browsing in such a harsh landscape was an especially memorable encounter that will stay with me for a longtime.
Editor’s Note: Elephants across Africa are in trouble. Check out WCS’s 96 Elephants campaign to learn more about the crisis and ways to get involved.