A Desert Elephant Bull in the Hoanib riverbed

Good day folks,

I recently returned from another trip to Namibia, which was colder than expected, but very rewarding regarding nature, landscape and wildlife photopgraphy.

We (my wife and I) started out in Windhoek and headed to the northwest towards the Palmwag Concession, where we camped for three nights before we reached the Hoanib riverbed.

Very soon, we found a wild large Elphant bull feeding on a tree right in the riverbed and as came slowly started walking in our direction I took this photo, where I tried to include a bit of the environment surrounding him.

In this shot you can get a glimpse at the foot he is just lifting up and get an idea of how these animals adapt to the harsh, dry and sandy conditions the live in most of the year: their wide feet.

(if you are interested in more Info: Here is a link to Wikipedia: Desert Elephants)




















As we had to find a place to set up camp soon, we decided to leave him and return later…


On the following day we found him in the riverbed again, feeding on some branches.

We got a bit close this time, as you can see in this shot, which i only cropped slightly for composition:
(close up @ 400mm)


after the initial portrait I got even closer on this one:




























(taken @ 560mm)

As I was operating with long glass, giving me around 200mm at the wide end, I was so close to the bull that what he did next came a bit as a surprise.

The Elephant changed his position, turned around and tried to reach the branches high up in the tree.

My only option to fit him into the frame was to quickly tilt the camera, resulting in this photo:



I had never seen an Elephant stretching and reaching out like this in person, but I knew the elephants in Mana Pools NP in Zimbabwe are famous for this behaviour.

Caught unprepared by this, I took another close up and then decided to switch lenses.


(taken @ 290mm this time)


At this time my biggest fear was that this move was a one-time thing and that I had screwed up this opportunity, but this guy decided to be generous and continued to move around and pose nicely.


(taken @ 116mm)


(taken @ 122mm)

So, changing to my 70-200mm lens turned out to be the right thing to do.

I consider myself to be very lucky having seen this pretty rare behaviour and even if I hadn´t gotten any photos, this event would have stayed in my heart.

After chewing those delicious branches for a couple of minutes, the bull was heading down the riverbeds towards our car, so I took a last shot and then gave him some room to walk on.


(taken @ 120mm)

I hope you enjoyed this rather lenghty post and some of the photos.

If so, stay tuned for more shot taken on our latest trip to Namibia,

until then,