CLOSE CALL, MANA POOLS, ZIM­BABWE

go! - - Parting Shots -

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,

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