With self-drive safaris now allowed again in Kruger National Park after seven weeks of lockdown in South Africa, I didn’t waste any time and took the opportunity to visit the Park for a day. It did not take too long before I came across a small herd of elephants standing around a mud wallow. It was a hot morning in the African bush and the elephants took the opportunity to cool down, splashing mud all over their bodies. While keeping their bodies cool with the mud, the elephants also get the opportunity later on to clean their rugged skins by scratching of the dry mud, using a tree or rock to scratch against.
In the process the elephants get rid of ticks and parasites trapped in the dry caked mud on their bodies. Majority of the herd finished their mud bath and slowly moved on. At the mud wallow remained a male baby elephant and his mother. The mother elephant casually continued splashing herself with mud while her calf was already covered in mud. The calf caught my attention when he stopped splashing mud over himself and started leaning forward slowly. It looked like the baby elephant was attempting to rub his forehead in the mud. That idea did not go so well for the baby elephant. While leaning forward to get his forehead in the mud, the elephant calf suddenly slipped and fell, face first into the mud. Like lightning the baby elephant got back onto his legs, looking a little flustered and embarrassed at the same time.
The elephant calf immediately turned around, slowly climbed up the bank and went to hide in the nearby bushes. Again, this behavior gave me the impression that the elephant calf felt a little embarrassed by his face plant into the mud. I felt sorry for the little one but at the same time found the whole incident funny. Immediately I could relate the incident back to the scenario when you fall flat on your face in public, quickly jump with the hope that no one saw you, then slowly making an effort to disappear while acting as if nothing happened. I left the scene with a smile on my face and I was filled with the greatest admiration for how much of the behavior of the baby elephant could be related back to our own human behavior.