Watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm – 12″ × 8″
The shadows now so long do grow,
That brambles like tall cedars show,
Molehills seem mountains, and the ant Appears a monstrous elephant. (Evening Quatrains)
- Charles Cotton
Elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the shadow of a mountain on their way to water in the northern parts of the Kalahari desert (South Africa).
A portion of the Kalahari Desert transforms for a brief period each year from a parched expanse of arid wasteland to a bountiful floodplain packed with channels, lagoons, swamps and islands — and it has the Okavango River to thank for this temporary transformation into paradise.
During the annual inundation, the Okavango Delta region draws migrating animals like a magnet, among them herds of Kalahari elephants. Elephants must have water on a regular basis, so as the dry season reaches a peak, they follow ancient instincts across the scorched and desiccated sands to the promise of boundless waters in the west.
As the elephants slowly make their way toward the delta, many can survive on what little resources they find until they finally enjoy a respite in the rich lands touched by the Okavango. Other herds will not complete the migration and may lose members to the harsh and competitive environment of the desert.