Some lucky sightings


Sarah Jacobson International Intern

Date Published

The past week has been busy with a lot of time out in the field and working through cleaning the Long Term Monitoring database. I have been accompanying Shifra when she drives out into the reserve to find elephant families. I am now able to help her by observing one individual while she observes another for social interactions. We’ve seen a lot of interesting exchanges including many loving gestures by mothers to their babies. When the elephants are resting there are many affiliative interactions where we have observed a mother leaning on one of her children while resting her trunk on another. These are the times when observing the elephants that it’s hard not to believe that they are emotional beings. Today we saw the newest baby I’ve seen so far in the park. It was a small, pink, fuzzy creature with a trunk that was very short making it look very disproportional. We first saw the baby as it wobbled clumsily across the road after its mother, Flaubert of the Artists family. We watched it rest underneath its mother and sister before attempting to suckle. Besides its appearance, its long search for Flaubert’s nipple was another sign that it must have been born very recently. Its tiny trunk moved against the side of the mother with its head tilted upwards and mouth open until it finally connected. Then the baby’s hunger was satisfied and it flopped down to rest in the shade again.

In the past couple days Shifra and I have been very lucky to see two leopards in the evening when we were headed back to camp. The first was in a far away tree and we wouldn’t have seen it there if there hadn’t been tourist cars along the road. It was a silhouetted figure with one leg dangling from the branch it lay on. We could barely make out its beautiful spotted fur through our binoculars. The next evening we were one of the first cars to come across another leopard enjoying its perch in a dead tree very close to the road. We were able to watch it closely as tourist cars descended on the spot from all directions. It didn’t seem too disturbed by all the noise though, I suppose the leopards in the park are used to those sounds. We joked that it may have chosen that spot because it wanted some attention since it was such a prominent spot. The leopard was such a beautiful creature with its golden fur shining in the evening light. Its limbs were comically splayed in every direction as it rested on the branch. We hope that our evening tradition will continue and we might see a cheetah or lion next!