‘Watering Elephants’

We heard about these wild elephant bulls that over the years have come to accept people giving them water from a hose pipe.  Steve tells the story:

“We were visiting the Zakouma National Park Headquarters in Chad with our friend and private guide, Lee Whittam, and got to spend some wonderful time with wild bull elephants. Over a long period of time, these bulls have learned to trust people enough to come to the back porch of the rangers’ house to be sprayed and drink from a hose, delivering cool, clean water from a borehole.

They come nearly every day at the same time. We all got to water the elephants, including Lee as seen above, with our friend Dawn taking pictures of another bull waiting its turn. These wild bulls will tolerate people standing on the porch, but we were told they could charge us if we left the porch.

We soon noticed this bull elephant had a large thorn, possibly from an acacia tree, lodged right in the tip of its trunk. You can see the brownish thorn sticking out from the top left of the tip of the trunk and it appeared to be well over an inch in size (see pink arrow in above image).

The thorn must have been painful to the elephant as the tip of the trunk, packed with many sensitive nerve endings, is used constantly in feeding and tactile sensing of its environment. Lee decided the thorn had to go and so while the elephant was distracted by its trunk being filled with water (it holds up to 2.2 gallons), Lee reached in and quickly pulled out the thorn. The elephant certainly felt this and jerked its trunk away, but soon returned the ‘thornless’ trunk to be filled with water again.

Lee was now the proud possessor of a large thorn. If he ever returns to Zakouma again, and should be charged by a bull elephant, he must quickly hold up the thorn and shout, “Remember the thorn!” and hope it is the right bull elephant!

I hope you enjoyed this modern-day fable.

Warm regards,
Steve T.”

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