Magriet Meintjes

TOLWE, South Africa

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606 Views as at 2011/8/16


Nikon D50
Date :2009/11/14 14:37:54.2
Lens: Sigma 70+300mm DG
Focal Length: 195mm
Exposure Mode:
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
1/500 sec – F/5
Exposure Comp.: 0 EV

On this visit to the KNP I had the most breathtaking experience ever!
There was a lion ‘kill’, next to the ‘crip or watering hole’ in the capture. When I arrived at the scene the giraffe was already killed and the lions were lying about three meters to the left of the giraffe under the tree. I noticed the most peculiar thing… there was also a massive crocodile in the watering hole, (visable at the giraffe’s head) very unusual as this was not closed to any rivers or dams. The lions could only feed on the body part that was away from the crocodile as he was feasting on the head of the giraffe. Still not sure who was resposible for the death of the giraffe! The crocodile or the lions!
While I was watching this, a herd of elephant arrived, as close to the crip, was also a reservior where the elephants drank water.
The matriarchy of the group immediately moved towards the lions trumpetting, as they had a new born calf with them, and the whole group was forming a circle around the little baby to proptect it against any possible lions attack.
The little one was constantly guarded, by a few older elephants in the group, while they all took turns to drink water.
When they all had a turn at the reservoir, the matriachy moved right up to the lions and the dead giraffe moving her trunk up and down along the whole body of the giraffe, almost as if she wanted to make sure that it was dead! She was doing this all on her own, the other were standing at the reservoir watching her through the whole ceremony. Once she was sure that the giraffe was dead, she turned around and walk to her family and they left, it was just so human like!

THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT – Loxodonta africana
The adult male African elephant is the bulkiest and heaviest of all land mammals.

The weight of a prime bull can be as much as 6000kg with the heaviest recorded just over 6500kg.
African elephant sub-species occur throughout east and west central Africa, where only the forest elephant is significantly different, but only as regards its smaller size and darker hide.
The elephants of the Far East are markedly different both in shape and temperament.
Although there is only one sub-species in southern Africa, the habitat tends to influence their behavioral patterns and even appearance.
There are two major extremes of habitat in which elephant are found in our sub-region-the arid and waterless Kaokoveld and the dense forests of Knysa (Cape Province). By far the largest proportion of elephants is, however, found in the bushveld country. The desert elephants of the waterless Kaokoveld need just as much food and water to survive as the other elephants. They are extremely careful in their eating, stripping off only the food needed, as if aware of how delicately balanced is nature in their arid and sparsely vegetated habitat. The Kaokoveld elephants are tall, scrawny and tough. The possible extinction of these endangered desert elephants holds severe threat for the ecology of the Kaokoveld. They are the only creatures able to keep open the watering points in the shifting sands and if they disappear so will much of the fauna of the area dependant upon this water.
Elephants are generally placid, but can be extremely dangerous if threatened or when they are in season. There are two aggressive behavioral patterns: If the animal is not serious about its intent, but just wishes to assert itself or show dominance, it may make a mock charge, trumpeting loudly, with the trunk probably extended and the ears flapping. If, however, the animal is intent on mischief, then the trunk may be rolled up for protection of left dangling, the ears are laid flat against the head and the tusks pointed directly at the quarry. The charge made is deadly in its silence.
Undeniably the glory, yet the downfall of this magnificent beast, is the bulk and quality of its ivory tusks. The heaviest recorded pair was an incredible almost 200kg, recorded from an animal from central Africa. The record in our region is no more than 90kg.
Elephants live to about 70 years, or sometimes slightly longer, with their age-span strictly controlled by their dentition. They have only six pairs of molars, with two in use at a time. As one pair is used they move forward along the jaw and are worn and splintered away by constant chewing and the roots are finally absorbed. That pair is replaced by the next which are longer and wider. Finally, when all six teeth on watch side have been worn away, the elephant has attained old age. Now unable to chew its food, it dies from a lack of nutrition.
The female differs from the male in having a slightly more angular and prominent forehead and a slightly straighter back. Tusks are generally smaller, although this becomes noticeable only when compared to tusks of older bulls. The entire weight of the massive skull and tusks is carried by the forelegs which are larger than the back legs. The front feet are more rounded than the hind, which are smaller and more oval. When the elephant flaps its ears blood supply in the heavy concentration of blood vessels near to the surface on the back of the ears cools, lowering the body heat of the animal.
Elephants do not go of to die in special “elephant graveyards” as popular legend would have it. Their remains do not litter the veld as the scavengers, large and small, ultimately remove all evidence even of this the largest of all land animals. Due to their large size they do not have predators in the normal sense, but poaching and culling have taken their toll of the African elephant.
These social animals are ruled by matriarchy. The senior cow in the family takes care of the needs of the family. Sometimes families join to form herds, but the larger bulls join the herd only when the cows are in oestrus, leaving again after their task is done.
Bulls rarely fight over the cows and may mate with several in the herd. A single pinkish coloured, hairy calf is produced and rarely a twin. A clear place near water is chosen for the birthing and sometimes other females attend to guard the mother. The young are at risk and are strictly guarded by the mother and herd.
FOOD: Elephants are strict vegetarians: tree-bark and roots, leaves, soother branches, grass and fruit is eaten, such as the baobab fruit and acacia pods.
They consume prodigious quantities of food. Where man has interfered with nature and elephant populations permitted to expand unnaturally, the vegetation has suffered severely. Large branches are ripped off and the tender components eaten, smaller trees are sometimes toppled to make their tender crowns available, even the huge succulent, soft pulp baobab tree trunks are chewed around until topple and the entire tree is eventually consumed.

ALTHOUGHT THEY APPEAR TO BE FLAT-FOOTED, elephants are in fact digitigrades [i.e., they walk on tip toes]
The elephant’s weight rests on the tip of each toe and on a fibrous cushion of cartilage under the “heel” which acts as a shock absorber, deadening sound.
Elephant’s feet are constructed in such a way, that the sole spreads out to take the weight at each step. When the foot is lifted, the toes sag and the foot diameter is reduced.

Considering its size and weight, the column-like limbs of the elephant have great mobility although the animal’s bulk demands that 3 feet normally be kept firmly on the ground.
An elephant tends to set its hind foot in the track on the forefoot, so that the tracks of the fore and hind feet often overlap, saving energy and allowing the elephant to travel distance of up to 50km in a day. The average walking gait is 6-8km/h, while a top speed of 30km/

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Artwork Comments

  • Anne Smyth
  • Magriet Meintjes
  • Kasia-D
  • Magriet Meintjes
  • Magriet Meintjes
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  • Jenny Dean
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  • Karen  Moore
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  • Edyta Magdalena Pelc
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  • Kimberly Chadwick
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  • Lori Peters
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  • SchwartingSue
  • Magriet Meintjes
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