Sunday, May 24, 2009

Adventures with Elephant at Flatdogs Camp

Adventure with Elephant at Flatdogs

One of the unique features of Flatdogs camp is the fact that the wild animals are allowed to come into the park and wander around. There are night watchmen who can accompany you to the toilet at night, and other staff during the day, that help keep the human visitors from coming too close when the wild animal happens to be a hippo, elephant or giraffe!

Wonkie Tusk and Gilbert
There are several elephants that we have been told are known by name in the camp and we have witnessed "Wonkie tusk" and some of her two daughters and younger sister. She is so named because one of her tusks points to the front and the other to the back. She also has a sister that comes through the area with her children also.

Our first morning here we were not able to get into the food storage area because one of the children was grazing right there. We went back a little while later and were able to get our stuff. One morning we watched as Wonkie tusk and children cruised through the area. One of the young juveniles knocked over one of the nice wooden chairs and then kicked it for good measure. He also managed to knock over a sign.

Another morning, as we were preparing to go fix our meal in the kitchen, we saw the herd moving through so skirted around buildings so they wouldn't see us. A Dutch couple that we had been visiting with came over with their cooler. They were getting ready to leave and were packing up when the family came through. The watchmen suggested they put their cooler in the kitchen area because "Wonkie tusk" can recognize a cooler and has been known the stomp one that was outside to get to what was in it and we were told the she has also pushed open a car window to get to one she saw inside the vehicle!

I went back to our tent one morning to get some cooking items I had forgotten and was unable to get into the tent because one of the young ones was right there at our tent! He finally moved away far enough that I was able to get what I needed. Another morning we were going to catch a ride into town with the shopping run and were at our tent getting things out when the family was moving through and were afraid we were going to be stuck in our tent. The proper etiquette is to stay back away from them and try to keep something large like a tree, tent, vehicle to move behind if they get too close. If you are in your tent you are to stay there.

The only story we have been told about them bothering a tent was by Jess, one of the managers, about two young guys that reported that a elephant had cut into their tent with her tusk and took the biscuits that had in their tent out. Of course, they were not supposed to have food in their tent and this explains why.

We also have seen Gilbert, a huge old bull elephant with beautiful tusks and no tail. Evidently some of them lose their tail to parasites or a predator trying to attack them. Gilbert was our excuse one morning to go eat in the restaurant because he was feeding right outside the kitchen. While we were having breakfast, moved onto the lawn overlooking the river by the restaurant. There was a young guy down sitting in a chair enjoying the early morning when Gilbert came up behind him. It was quite a startling experience for him to say the least.

Another encounter we had with the elephants was one afternoon while I was sitting outside our tent painting and Robert was reading a book. A girl came up to the sink by our tent area and turned to me and said, "Excuse me, did you know there was an elephant behind you?" I turned around and there was one about 40 feet from us feeding. I retired to the platform to finish working on my painting and Robert followed the group as they wandered through the camp.

We have also been told by one of the local workers here at the camp that the villagers have used what has been known as a chili fence to keep the elephants out of their fields. What they do is take old cooking oil that they have cooked chilis in and dipped rags in this and strung them around their field. They report that it does keep the elephants out of their field.

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