Posted in Africa, Elephants, Photography, Travel

Body Language

A shoulder lifts, a leg straightens and accepts weight as the foot splays out. The back leg opposite moves forward, toenails nearly scraping sand, straightens, accepts weight, and the foot splays out. As his body shifts side to side, the bull elephant walks ponderously and gracefully towards me.   Even from twelve feet away he fills my entire range of vision.

He trails his trunk, knuckling the ground, leaving smooth marks like a giant side-winding snake. A creature bigger than most monuments is on the move, yet his movements are loose and his pace casual.   He reaches out and rubs the bottom of his trunk across a cow elephant’s backbone.

Shyly she turns her head away, her expressive ears folded neatly against her shoulders, a diamond on her forehead.

photograph by Cheryl Merrill
photograph by Cheryl Merrill

Posted in Africa, Elephants, Nature, Photography

If We Could Imagine Such a Thing


photograph by Cheryl Merrill
photograph by Cheryl Merrill


It’s a mucky, slimy, gloppy mud. The young elephant snorkels on his side, the tip of his trunk swiveling above the surface, as he slides towards another bull. His days are filled with heat and dust.

This feels good, his body language says, this feels really good.

If we could imagine ourselves weighing four tons, and think of gravity’s effect on those four tons, then maybe we could imagine wallowing in such mud, pushing and shoving like giant sumo wrestlers, reveling and rolling in the sheer pleasure of this warm gunk. We would inhale a slimy trunkful of ooze, squirt it like a watergun in any direction, even at each other. We would rub our eyes clear with a curled fist at the end of our trunks. We would arise glistening and bright as a metallic statue; we would be cooled, refreshed. . . .

if we could imagine such a thing.