Why I Prefer an Elephant’s Butt to Her Belly

For weekend reading I thought I would tell you a short story, just a bit longer than my usual seventeen syllables. This is a true story about elephants and how they taught me a “tiny lesson”.

It was a nice December morning in Africa, more exactly in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. A good friend from Sweden had come to visit us and we decided to go on a safari over the weekend to show her the beauty of the wild. We used to drive ourselves in our sturdy SUV and usually I would be the “safari driver” – so also this morning.

little elephant near the lodge

After an early breakfast at the lodge, we set out into the wild to spot some animals. Our friend was particularly interested in seeing elephants. We knew they were plentiful in this particular park because big herds had moved in from neighboring Rwanda where a conflict was raging at the time.

We drove quite a while, from the south to the north of the park, first on a narrow gravel road and then followed a small trail hardly distinguishable in the tall grass. Suddenly we saw elephants crossing the trail in a distance. We got a bit closer, then stopped and idled. We watched in awe as a huge herd, probably 50-60 elephants crossed our path from a sparsely wooded meadow on the right to a grassy opening on the left. Everybody was there, from the huge elders to the small cuties. We watched and filmed the rare sight at a safe distance. Needless to say our friend was excited!

After about half an hour, we could see the heard had settled to eat at the far end of the grassy area. Only two adults were still on the right of our trail, busy eating from trees at the far end of the meadow. I quickly scanned the situation and decided it was time for us to continue our journey. I shifted to the first gear and slowly, quietly started moving towards the point where they had crossed the trail. Everyone continued to film and observe the herd. We were doing fine, none of the elephants had taken notice of us. Or so we thought.

Suddenly we heard a high-pitched alarm. I turned my head to the right and saw a huge elephant belly right next to our truck! A belly, not a butt or a head! The trunk making the noise was high above our vehicle, the front legs right above our heads! The matriarch had been managing the herd’s crossing from behind some tall and dense shrubbery next to the trail. And she had remained behind… waiting for the two latecomers to get their act together. That made sense. But for us my hasty decision resulted in a surprise that could easily have turned deadly.

As I am telling this story now, you already know the outcome. Metal to the pedal, everyone tumbled around in the truck, we all screamed, the video camera hit the roof…but we made it. We now have a reminder of this adventure – with the alarm sound, elephant belly, our screams and all – on DVD. But the truth to be told, I rather watch the latter part of this DVD filmed back at the lodge, where we met this charming young man.

I have thought about this small incident afterwards. I now know why I definitely prefer to see an elephant’s butt rather than her belly. I also learned a lesson, ever so tiny: I’ve got to get my facts right before leaping into a decision. Shooting from the hip might sometimes prove deadly.

Have a great weekend everyone – may your adventures be just a shade safer.

23 thoughts on “Why I Prefer an Elephant’s Butt to Her Belly”

      1. Aye–I was thinking the same thing.

        As it turns out I’m drafting part two now and letting my inner cynic have a bit of fun. I’m not a gamer. Like you I strive for ‘real’ achievements. I do see the benefit, though. The problem is that so many advocates for change treat the ‘new thing’ as an all-or-nothing. Games have a place. So does other stuff. Finding the intelligent balance–there’s the craft.

    1. Thank you Pat – I can smile when I think about it now, but right then it was very scary. I still remember the angry sound she made and recently also watched the DVD…grateful it all ended well 🙂

  1. That was great weekend reading! And what a lesson. I have only seen elephants at a distance; a very big, safe distance and there is no chance I will be seeing any this weekend. The biggest wildlife in my garden is the household cat 🙂

    1. Thanks, happy you liked my lesson. After that too hasty decision, I have always tried to remember to check my facts. I’m sure the cat in your garden is of a friendly variety 🙂 Have a nice Sunday!

  2. Love the title!! 🙂 Nothing gets your adrenalin running like an elephant charge!! I faced the exactly same situation in Corbett National Park in India a few years back. Only, instead of the matriach alone charging, the entire herd of 20 elephants came charging towards our jeep!! My heart has never beaten faster than it did at that moment!!

    1. Thanks! We had been charged at earlier a few times, but from a distance…now she was hiding right at the road…what a surprise we got. I hope you’ll have many (safe) adventures on your trip – looking forward to reading about them!

  3. Oh my goodness, thanks for this vivid share (eek!) You certainly got my heart rate UP! 🙂 Glad no one was hurt!! Brought back great memories from the safari we went on in 2009 in South Africa (Madikwi). Still takes my breath away every time I view the pictures…

  4. I still feel the “eek”! I’m happy you had an opportunity to go on safari. I’m sure you’ll do it again at some point. We tend to get quite attached to the wild. It is such an awesome feeling to be a guest in their kingdom…I also hope to do it again, but the next time I will not do the driving …just enjoy being a guest on the back of the Land Rover 🙂

  5. Oh my! Your photos and life are both incredible! Just wonderful!! In a few weeks we will be there! I emailed the grocery store manager, he’s going to pack our groceries from a list!! Woo Hoo! Hopefully the meals will be better than last time when I was confused by the food! 😦

    1. Are you going to Africa? Uganda? Lucky you! I can only go to Africa for short work trips now due to my Hubs health situation…no safaris for me at this time (:

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