02 Aug Elephant cow loses a bit of ivory
This is a wonderful sighting as described by Ulrich Schutte, guide at Shibula lodge, in his own words.
Date: 19 July 2008
Location: Sterkstroom valley, “Weaver city”
It started off as most elephant sightings do, calm and relaxed. There were large bulls, young bulls, breeding herds with youngsters, in total about 30 animals, and the interaction was relaxed and friendly. Some of the cows and calves were swimming in the pools in the river and taking a mud bath. The interaction between the elephants was amazing, but little did we know that the harmony was short lived.
Just as we were about to leave the sighting a few young bulls came down the river towards one of the cows. Her initial behaviour was normal with her trunk up and smelling the air. One of the young bulls seemed like he was in musth. As he came closer to her she started shaking her head with aggression but the young bull did not back up. She mock charged a few steps but the bull was either brave or unaware of what was to come. In a matter of a seconds her mock charge changed into a full on charge.
The interaction was surely not friendly any more and this time the young bull turned and ran. The cow chased him for about 40m trumpeting out loud, gaining on him with every step.
My guests and I thought the young bull might just escape, but then he lost his footing while running through a dry donga in the river and crashed to the ground as he stumbled. The cow caught up with him as the he went down and used her weight advantage and rammed the young bull with her forehead and trunk, pinning him to the ground. You could clearly see the young bull was feeling the pain. As he tried to stand up the cow stood back and bashed him continually. As he tried to stand up once more the cow used her tusks to press down on his spine. Through all the commotion we heard a loud cracking sound and the young bull collapsed. The cow now clearly had made her point and retreated. One of my guests said it seemed like she broke his back as he could not stand up after several attempts. Eventually he managed to stand up. We were both amazed and surprised as we thought that that loud cracking noise was his back breaking.
As the cow turned around we were able to see that her left tusk was shorter than before the incident. I then realised it was her tusk that broke off.
In all despair and sorrow you could see that she was not happy with the outcome of the situation, she was constantly touching and feeling the missing piece of tusk.
As she walked off irritated at her loss the young bull limped away. Both had lost something that day. The young bull lost his pride and the poor cow a piece of ivory.