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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
Elephant, hippo, and spiders, oh my!
Corinne Kendall — in East Africa Project    Share

Today an elephant charged us. Usually this would be an event of great concern, but today it was just cute. The elephant was a baby, pretty little guy. We could see him coming from a while off as he started his great stompy rush towards the road. By the time we were perpendicular to him he was coming fast, trunk up and trumpeting with all his little might. You could almost see the older elephants rolling their eyes at this foolishness. No one followed him or even acknowledged his distress. Everyone else stood ripping off pieces of grass and shoving them in their mouths as the little elephant came chasing after us. We stopped near him and he kept coming and coming – like a mini game of chicken. This probably felt safer on the driver’s side, where Wilson sat securely. The elephant was only a few feet from my door when it came to a stop. “What are you doing?” I chided him. His trumpeting stopped and he stood still a bit afraid and somewhat fascinated. I kept talking to him and he continued to stare at me curiously. I find talking to elephants always calms them or at least changes the mood – I often talk at charging elephants and it seems to change the identity of the vehicle in their eyes - no longer a hurdling mass but a sweet-talking entity. (This technique does not work on rhinos though). When no one had come to his rescue, the little elephant finally high tailed it back to mom, quite literally with his bushy little tail swung high in the air.

Today we also got a closer look at two of my other favorite animals – a hippo and a jumping spider. The shy hippo was wandering through the tall grass, munching as it went. A huge scar was visible along one of his bulky sides and blood sweat – the strange red liquid (though not actually blood) that acts as sweat, insect repellent, sun screen, and antiseptic – streamed from his pores, covering the wound. We didn’t get a much closer look than that as he kept his distance from the car, but it was just nice to see one out of the water for once.

jumping spider

Then after lunch I found a gorgeous gold, red, and black jumping spider hanging out on our car. The two front legs were massive like a gorillas and they gave the spider’s robotic movements an almost crab-like feel. I gently positioned the spider with a bit of grass as I took a few photos. Every few moments the spider would swivel her head up to take a better look at me with her two great big eyes (she actually has more, but these were the only ones clearly visible). Jumping spiders actually see in color and have incredibly good vision. I wonder if she was as fascinated with my red hair as I was with her red tiny face. The golden markings looked painted and gave the spider an almost regal look. Before we left I bumped her off the car so she wouldn’t risk injury during transport.

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