The Addo elephant – an inspirational coincidence

Last week we spent a day at Addo Elephant National Park and, just as we were leaving at sunset, we saw a lone bull elephant striding up over the horizon.  The misty Suurberg ridges rising up beyond the Sundays River valley made a lovely dramatic backdrop to his silhouette.

Addo Elephant coming out of the sunset

I got to wondering what would happen to my picture if I draped it like a tablecloth over a three dimensional elevation model of the Addo area – showing the elephant embedded on the landscape it lives in.  It wasn’t easy to get the image looking aesthetically pleasing and on the right part of the landscape but here’s the result.

Elephant and Addo landscape

It’s coincidental because I was also using my geographical skills last week working with a 3D model of the Port Elizabeth area. I suddenly wondered if I could get something much more evocative using the elephant picture instead!

Relief Model of the Port Elizabeth area

Addo Elephant Park: two eyes, a tusk and a yawning lion

Yesterday I drove down to Port Elizabeth to collect Kate at the airport with the thought of an afternoon game drive through Addo Elephant Park on the way home to Grahamstown.  We have a SA National Parks Wild Card subscription which gives you free entry for a year and so it’s a real incentive to get into a park if you are near one.

We drove into the southern section of the park from the N2 through the Mathyolweni Gate and exited halfway up the Park near Nanaga.  There’s was plenty to see in the late afternoon light.  We got really close to some very relaxed elephants, saw lots of buffalo, many, many warthogs and then came across a very sleepy lioness.

The beauty of owning a Pentax is that all of your old lenses will work even on the newest body.  Yesterday’s pictures were taken using my old manual Tokina SD 70-210.  It was a real pleasure to work with it again and for my fingers to rekindle their memories.

Some Lions at the Addo Elephant Park

One of the delights of buying a SANParks Wild Card is that they wave you straight through at the park gate and when you get your day pass at reception there is nothing extra to pay!  This was our experience last week when we took a day trip to Addo to see the elephants and take a tour down through the southern section of the Park which we have never visited.  We entered through the main northern gate just outside Addo and exited nearly five hours later through the Matyholweni (southern) gate near Colchester.

We weren’t disappointed, straight away seeing a nice pair of elephants drinking at Hapoor Dam.  Then we drove to the southern section and were met by a large bull elephant guarding his 20 strong herd.  We eventually backed off, turned and left them as he clearly didn’t want us close (you can see he was in musth if you look closely behind his eye in the picture of the herd on the road).

Then we were treated to two pairs of lions.  The first two were asleep in the grass though they did condescend to roll over at one point so we got a few quick pictures.  Just round the corner in thick bush were two more males right next to the road and we would have been able to get a great view of them except for the vehicle that stopped literally on top of them, blocking the road and anyone else’s chance of seeing them or getting past! We did get a short look at them as they were disturbed and eventually strode off into thick bush.

It was an excellent day out and a very nice trip down through the park experiencing a variety of landscapes and biomes.  The sea was ahead of us driving south and you get glimpses of the dunes and Algoa Bay whilst the Zuurberg mountains lie off to one side beyond the Sundays River Valley.