What first comes to mind, how can one not spot an elephant, we are talking about an animal that is what some would say the size of a house!
African elephants are the largest land mammal, reaching around an average of 6 tons and a height of around 3 meters, they are very large indeed. They are found in most national parks in Africa if they were recorded to be there naturally once upon a time, although elephants roamed almost everywhere in Africa they did however not stay long in certain areas due to the plant life not being able to support their high food and water demands for long periods of time and therefore passed through some areas, rather than stay in them.
If you have already been on games drives, you won’t be shocked with what I’m about to say, but if you haven’t you would think “no ways, that’s impossible”. Elephants are almost invisible, if they are not standing right in front of you in the road and looking like an overgrown giant, or in an open field, they blend in very well to the natural surroundings and it is so easy to drive past them without even knowing they were just behind a few leaves next to the road.
One experience I had, was we spotted this large leopard tortoise in a river bed. I did have this eerily feeling as if something was watching me while I was out of the vehicle and giving a short talk about this tortoise we spotted, I took another good look, and I still could not see anything obvious or hear anything either so I carried on, next moment crunch and bang went a large stump off a tree! There he was a local bull just a few meters away, clear as day through the bushes. The elephant was just enjoying a bit of breakfast and the guests were so happy to see the elephant, as we had not yet seen them. I am so glad that tortoise was there to enjoy and also to stop us and let us realise there was an elephant right next to us.
So, how do we spot and elephant? If your lucky enough to spot them in an open area great, if you are not that lucky and need a few more pointers, if you find a lovely view point, that is the best and most rewarding way as you can often spot a lot from the distance and enjoy the views. While you’re on the view point you need to look out for stones or pebbles that where not there the day before or stones that are moving, if the light is in your favour you can spot them many kilometres away, once you spot them work your way in that direction and hope your lucky stars are with you to find them up close and person to enjoy these giants. There are many other ways too, using tracks and signs to know if they are in the area (finding their tracks, dung or even smell)
But with all sightings and experiences in the bush its mostly being there at the right place at the right time, with a bit patience on the side.