On my last afternoon with the strange and wonderful creatures we call “elephants,” but who are their own beings, we found a couple of bulls so breathtakingly enormous that I actually did not think there were surviving males so old and carrying such prodigious ivory.
One of them was named Tim, whose reappearance after many weeks was a great relief to the researchers Katito Sayialel and Vicki Fishlock, who know and love him and fear for his life in a time of rampant poaching.
At the other end of the life-journey spectrum, I could not help laughing at the antics of many babies born in an unprecedented baby-boom. Following a deadly 2009 drought that killed hundreds of elephants and thousands of other animals, many female elephants who lost babies in that drought came synchronously into estrous. And when rain returned, so did new life within.
As Vicki Fishlock and I followed a herd of several families from the daytime haunts of a major wetland into the bush and hills where they spend nights, one particularly playful little jumbo was a bit obsessed with the butt of the baby ahead. Good friends, obviously.