21 November 2010

Elephants Picking Daisies

Elephants are incongruous creatures, large and lumbering, they eat and amble around the veld in the Addo National Park in South Africa. The drought has not helped and the vegetation in the park always looks tired, there are no big trees left and most of the growth seems stunted. We tend to blame the mega-herbivores (lovely word!). Anything that gets walked on or eaten by a mega-herbivore is entitled to look jaded.

Then we had some rain over a period of a few weeks and the appearance of the park has suddenly changed. It seems to have been sprinkled from above with yellow flowers! I have been trying to photograph the flowers for years but this event is difficult to predict. The daisies can flower anytime from September to January but often their numbers are too low to be spectacular. The heat of the African sun can also curtail their flowering period.

The only elephant to cooperate was a mother and her calf and even so she was not the ideal model – she seemed more interested in the grazing than posing for the camera. Her calf was also more interested in her mother’s milk than the daisies. I wonder what elephant’s milk looks like – I can imagine that the milk coming from a cow that has grazed on daisies must be yellowish and rich. Think this elephant calf is going to grow big and strong! As I write this, there are clouds gathering, and there is the chance of more rain which should be followed by temperatures in the mid 30degrees. The flowers could be really spectacular this year and I can see myself spending a lot of time waiting for the elephants.

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