A stray hair against a blue sky, the tips of eyelashes, hair around tusk, and on trunk. Wiry hair, soft hair. African elephants are surprisingly hairy, especially when you’re this close.
Hello, it’s Monday. Ever wondered what the underside of an elephant’s trunk looks like? See the grass stains?
Morula stands square on, keeping her eyes upon me. Her cobbled forehead broadens from her nose upward in a triangular shape. The top of a tree is visible over her right shoulder, as if she has a giant nosegay tucked behind her ear. Short bristles like an old man’s buzz cut outline the top of her head.
Because of the way she’s standing, ears flattened against her shoulders, Morula seems slim, her skull almost hollow. The tip of her trunk flops over itself in a loose coil and points down like a curved arrow. It begins to twitch in an irregular rhythm. I take the lens cap from my camera and glimpse a tiny reflection of myself in its mirror. Is this what she sees – another one of those small humans, with its odd upright stature? Does she see details: my hat, my camera, my idiotic grin?
I take a goofy photograph of Morula – it will look like she’s bored and playing with the only thing at hand – her trunk.
Perspective is the way you see things. Color vs. black-and-white. Or elephant-sized vs. human-sized.
Is going camping again. Hey, it’s summer. Elephants like to camp out. In the meantime, Jabu is going to watch over you once again.
Towering over me.
Palm tree with elephant.
An ear in motion.
African elephants can be recognized by big ears that mimic the shape of Africa. They use them like large fans, elephant air-conditioning.
An elephant produces enough metabolic heat to warm a small house, or light two hundred sixty-watt bulbs. Elephants are pachy-dermed, thick-skinned. They don’t have sweat glands. Instead, their ears act like giant heat exchangers, regulating body temperature. As air moves over the huge network of swollen arteries covering each ear, an elephant’s blood cools as much as nine degrees before it returns to the body.
When spread open, an elephant’s ears increase its body size by roughly twenty square feet. That amount of surface area provides a huge stretch of skin that thermo-regulates its body. Every twenty minutes its entire blood supply – one hundred and twenty gallons of it – is pumped through its ears.
My teeny, itsy ears are built somewhat the same as an elephant’s ears, with an upper rim of cartilage and a fleshy, lower lobe. But I don’t have an auriculo-occipitalis, an ear muscle the size of a weightlifter’s bicep. I can’t flap my ears. I can’t even wiggle them.
Eating a bush. It’s hard to do that without getting leaves on your head.