CLOSE CALL, MANA POOLS, ZIMBABWE
WJ NORTIER: In August 2018, we travelled to Mana Pools in a convoy of four vehicles and camped at Nyamepi. I work as a ranger at Sabi Sand Game Reserve and I know that wild animals remain wild no matter where you are. You should always approach with caution. That said, I found the elephants at Mana Pools to be very calm: They went about their business as if we weren’t there. The camps in the park aren’t fenced and elephants often wander through, looking for tasty seed pods in the ana trees. I watched them closely and there were no signs of stress or uncertainty when they browsed among the campers. I was the youngest member of the group, which also included my parents who are from Mbombela. On our last afternoon in Mana Pools, I decided to put my camping bed outside the tent where it was cooler. I didn’t think I would fall asleep, but I did… RIANA NORTIER ( WJ’S MOM): When you report to the reception office at Mana Pools, you’re told you should never obstruct the movement of an animal in any way. You shouldn’t pitch your tent on a path used by hippos, for example, or under a tree with ana pods that the elephants like to eat. The elephants we saw visited a specific tree near WJ’s tent every day; it wasn’t unusual to see them in camp. Still, we grabbed our cameras every time they arrived because we wanted to show people back home how close they really were. No one would have believed us otherwise.
WJ: I must have been asleep for about 15 minutes when I felt my shirt being tugged . In my drowsy state, I thought someone was playing a prank on me.
RIANA: We saw the bull approach. He ate some of the seed pods under the tree near WJ’s tent. As usual,