Fruits of Tangi Elephants

The road to our new camping site was somewhat rough as the area was not burnt and the grass was tall. We were heading slightly downhill, seeing Tangi river in the distance about three quarters of the kilometer ahead. We came across a small elephant herd, stopped and let them pass. Emma, the ranger was behind us, on his bike carefully watching. Once we reached the river, we located our camping site after few unsuccessful tries.We were now at a new camping spot at Tangi River. We came through here a few times but never camped; it felt great to feel something new and unknown ahead. The camping site overlooked a stunning Tangi River with its curves and bends. The river originates in the northeast of the park near Purongo, bringing rainwater from far away , including from areas outside of the park. It has comparatively more water in it year round than Nyamsika River known to us. Walking in it is not possible year round.

Animal Path leading to Tangi River

The landscape around the river – especially to the south – is dominated by omnipresent Borassus Palm Trees. One speculates that ecology of the area must have changed over the years, and these palm trees gradually became a dominant tree species, at an expense of other local trees like acacias. Even now in some places small palm trees overcrowd the grass and ground vegetation and make the area less open – potentially impacting a habitat of local herbivores. On the other hand, Borassus Palm Trees have one big seasonal attraction for our elephant friends: a juicy fruits ripening in Jan-Mar every year. These fruits are a delicacy for them: and we were up for some unique encounters with our pachyderm friends as the fruit season was in full swing.

One special elephant encounter remained with me. It was early evening – Jimmy & Emma and myself just returned to camp after our afternoon walk, during which we also encountered several elephant groups; at one points on all three sides from us. Back in the camp, we found one elephant was walking up and down the river shore on the other side; occasionally disappearing for a while but then 10-15 min later he was back. This process repeated itself and started an hour earlier, our friends told us.

Young bull patrolling river across the river from our camp
Young bull patrolling river across the river from our camp

The Young Bull at last sort of knelt on his front legs and shook his head left and right, visibly trying to signal to us something. His mood was peaceful, he acted as if he could not wrap his head around who we were and what were doing probably under his favorite palm trees with ripe fruits. The rangers at some point distracted him by clapping and making some noise, at last at dusk he said good bye to us and ventured into the darkening bush.

During the walk, it is amazing to see numerous animal paths, some made primarily by elephants. Many of them literally going from one palm tree / stand to another. The elephants kind of patrol these areas checking on fruits regularly by each tree!

The elephants we’ve seen during those 2 days were mostly small families, with quite a few babies and some more lonely younger bulls. The population seems to be growing. Their presence around the camp throughout made it very special as they make the bush come alive whether you observe them feeding, crossing river, or strutting away in their fast pace.

Ripe Borassus Palm Fruits

 

Elephants feeding on ripe fruits
Elephants feeding on ripe fruits
Elephants resting under lone acacia tree
Elephants resting under lone acacia tree
Waterbuck, Kobs, and Warthog in the heat of the day
Rangers leading the walk

 

 

 

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