A Day With Elephants

Morkel Erasmus All Authors, Morkel 5 Comments

The Wild Eye Mana Pools safari season is fast approaching. Due to my involvement with the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year last year, I couldn’t host a Mana Pools safari in 2015, but in anticipation of the trip I’m hosting coming this July, I’ve gone back to the memories of the safari I hosted in September 2014.

On the last full day of our safari, while walking around on the floodplains, we found a group of elephant bulls foraging near Trichilia campsite early in the morning. Two of these bulls are legends of Mana. I know some folks don’t like naming wild animals – in Mana the iconic bulls are named for easy identification. One was “Big Vic” (or “Vee”) and the other was “Fred Astaire”, and he’s one of those that regularly gets up on his hind legs to reach the branches of the immense winterthorn trees.

This is Fred…


And this is Big Vic…note the v-shaped slit in his left ear…


There was a third bull also in this “guys’ gang”, one I hadn’t seen before in Mana…


At one point during our wonderful time spent with them that morning, I had my guests sit down on a long fallen log right next to a massive winterthorn tree.

The bulls were feeding on another tree nearby, and suddenly Big Vic came sauntering towards us, stopped no less than 5 meters in front of us, and started feeding from the tree right in front of us! This photo was taken at 24mm focal length…


We spent the better part of the morning just chilling with these big boys, while being on foot ourselves – something that makes a safari to Mana Pools so special and so different to other destinations.

Here’s Doug capturing the moment (Doug and Marie are joining us in Mana again this year)…


On the way back to camp for brunch we also saw the original Mana legend, “Boswell”, getting up on his hind legs to feed. Veronica was completely enamored with his antics.


Later that afternoon we headed back out to the area where we left the trio of bulls. We came across a gentle elephant cow and her calf who had a big itch.


Big Vic was nowhere to be seen, but Fred Astaire was moving and feeding in the treeline next to the river along with a younger bull cohort.

What followed was a glorious afternoon basking in the glow of the forest light in Mana Pools, photographing these bulls foraging. It never gets old, and is a joy every time! I showed my guests how to achieve a starburst effect and we enjoyed playing around with various compositions and exposures in the magical afternoon light coming through the trees and reflected off the waters of the Zambezi river.





Mana captivates, it enthuses, it weaves a spell on all those who visit.

Our Mana Pools safaris are proving to be one of our most popular offerings. We’ve been hosting guests in Mana more frequently than any other dedicated photographic travel company, and we believe our safaris offer the best value for money in terms of hospitality, setting, experience and photographic guidance. Why not grab one of the last remaining open spots on my trip in July this year? More details HERE.

Until next time!


About the Author

Morkel Erasmus

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Just a regular guy, camera in hand, overcome by the beauty of the African continent, and passionate about sharing this beauty with others!

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Comments 5

  1. Douglas Bolt

    Morkel, thanks for refreshing my memories of our safari with you in 2014. It was so good that we’ve decided to return this year. We considered several other destinations, but the thought of repeating our Mana Pools experience made our decision pretty easy.

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  2. Vikram Ghanekar

    Hello Morkel,
    Lovely images. Hope to see these big bulls in July.
    Which lenses would you recommend for Mana Pools?

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      Morkel Erasmus

      Hi Vikram. I think we should see some of these big boys!
      I would recommend taking one longer lens and one shorter one – walking with 2 cameras that aren’t too heavy. But I will send you all a detailed email closer to the trip to lay out suggestions for packing and lenses.

  3. Pingback: Trip Report: Mana Pools Photo Safari, 17-24 July 2016 - Wild Eye

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