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Advice From an Elephant 

5 May 2021 | By Author Thornybush | Experiences & Wildlife

Elephants have roamed the world for a long, long time. 55 millions years, in fact. So who better to take advice from, than an elephant,  who surely knows a thing or two about how to survive life in the wild.

Elephants are the pillars of Africa’s balance in the ecosystem. Trampling forests and shrubbery may be seen as an art of destruction by human eyes, but in fact this is to create space for smaller shrubbery to grow and flourish. They use their trunks to find underground water during dry months and create new waterholes to help wildlife access water. Herds also travel over vast rangelands, dispersing seeds in their dung, helping generate new green growth. And if you’ve ever watched a herd of ellies it’s no secret that they have a divine order,  and in their almost-silent rumbling, lies respect for  all family members. Elephants are the gatekeepers of Africa’s natural order and with that, their existence allows tourism to flourish by attracting our guests to see them in the wild.

So what can we learn from these majestic creatures? Let’s go on a Thornybush safari through an ellies eyes, and take some life lessons to help preserve the African bush along the way.

Leave a big first impression. 

Just like ellies, Africa itself leaves a big first impression. But how can you leave behind an impression that lasts a lifetime? Just like elephants give back to the ecosystem, so can you. At Thornybush we have various community projects that we encourage our guests to be a part of. Whether it’s Pack for a Purpose (an initiative that asks travellers to save space in their suitcase to bring over essential supplies which go towards the local children and families) or taking part in one of the activities that spend time with the local communities (this helps you understand why contributing economical support to our local communities inspires greater conservation efforts). Showing your support for the magic that makes Thornybush will help leave an impression of elephant proportions. 

Be all ears. 

“Have you got your bush ears and eyes on?” It’s a common saying you’ll hear on safari as you head out on your game drive. Just like elephants use their ears to communicate and show their emotions, so must we, as we begin to become one with the wild. Listening out for cracks in the bush from a silent giant, or the sounds of wildlife calling can make you feel like a safari pro. Communication is also knowing when to tap your ranger on the shoulder and let him know if a certain sighting is making you uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to communicate to feel One with the herd. 

Know when to put your foot down for what you believe in.

Conservation and sustainability is at the core of everything we do. From being water wise in our lodges to upskilling our staff, we’re passionate about putting our foot down when it comes to taking care of our part of the wild. We’re proud of making our experiences more meaningful, nature-immersive and sustainably-aware. Because we’ve seen first-hand that  what we do can have a positive impact on not only you, our guests, but the community and environment you’ll encounter too. Just like an elephant will topple a tree to reach the good stuff, he knows that by paving the way new life will spring up in its place. So stand up for what you believe in, and feel empowered  to ask, explore and discover how your five-star luxury safari experiences is contributing to sustainable ways of operation.. 

Be gentle, no matter your size. 

Elephants are incredibly silent, which is amazing considering their size. They navigate through the bush with a gentle presence, only grumbling to communicate and cracking branches to eat. This teaches us that to find and see the wildlife we’re after we must be silent too. Respecting your time in the bush may sometimes mean whispers or hand gestures at a close encounter sighting or listening to other guests questions on what may seem like obvious queries. It’s picking up after yourself after a morning coffee stop and leaving behind nature as you found it. As foreign objects in this ecosystem, we need to be gentle to be a part of it.

Have big ideas and let your imagination run wild!

There is no recipe for the perfect safari experience, but having an idea of what is on that bucket list sighting is a good place to start. If it’s ticking off that birding lifer, or spotting the big five, our rangers can be better equipped to get you an experience to remember. Coming on safari is where your imagination comes alive, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before so do your research, find your passion and let the wild ideas run free. 

Charge aheadBe bold!

Every once in a while you may find yourself on a “Lambo-greenie” or a “Ferrari-safari”. This is when your ranger has to “charge ahead” to get you to a special sighting. Nature is unpredictable and when interactions happen, we want you to be able to experience it. If an elephant smells water after a long drought, or catches wind of a Marula tree in season, you can bet that there will be a stampede of giant feet to get there before anyone else. Did you know that elephants can communicate between 15-30 kms? Just like rangers call  in exciting sightings, so do our gentle giants when there’s tasty Marula a-fruit.

We hope that these lessons from an elephant prepare you for your dream safari at Thornybush. We’re so blessed to be a part of their world, and we hope to keep it their world for as long as we can. Wouldn’t you agree?

Photos by: Jemma Park