"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Africa: Part 3

Years ago, when I went back to school I had to take a speech class and I chose to do a speech on African Elephants and the ivory trade. In typical 'OCD Stacey' fashion I got completely obsessed with elephants and read everything I could possibly find. In total my 15 minute, junior college GE Speech class, speech took about 40 hours of research and had 12 references. Other students did speeches on Pearl Jam's boycotting of high school frog dissection and how shampoo companies get you to use more product by including 'repeat' in the directions for use, and I wrote a thesis length paper on elephant physiology, matriarchal dynamics of elephant families, general elephant behavior, and the illegal poaching and marketing of ivory and it effects on elephant populations.

All of the high school drop outs in my class were riveted, just riveted. Let me tell you.

Yeah, can you say overkill? Well, that is just how I roll. All or nothing. I have two speeds: balls to the wall or glued to the couch watching CSI marathons. I don't have a lot of 'in between' if you know what I mean.

Needless to say, elephants were high on my list of priorities to see in Africa. I swear that every time I saw elephant dung (Dung = droppings = feces = poop.) my heart rate went up. I am aware that there is something wrong with me. My husband calls me the poopologist. I can tell more about an animal from its poop than is conceivable by most people. Call it a gift.

I even have pictures. The guides about fell out of the jeep laughing as I made them stop and told my dad or husband to get photographs of Kudu, warthog, and Impala fecal matter.

Anyhoo, that is for later. Back to the Elephants!

We saw elephants at all of the reserves. Their numbers are recovering and they are even considered overpopulated at some reserves. But one of the elephant highlights of the trip was AGAIN a viewing that I missed! I must be cursed. Hubby and mom went on the game drive and were able to see this:

A brand, spanking, new elephant!

It was born about 2 hours before. If you look behind grandma's front leg (who is warning the jeep to keep its distance) you can just see the new mom's leg and the blood from the afterbirth. My dad, brother and I had chosen to take a hiking tour that morning (because, really, when will I ever again in life, get to hike in Africa?!) It was awesome and I loved it, but seriously bummed that I missed the baby rhino AND the newborn elephant!

"What is this thing on my face?"

It will take several months before the baby gets full control over it's trunk. As babies you can often see the trunk swinging wildly as they run. The elephant's trunk is a highly complicated structure with over 40,000 muscles and many uses for the elephant. It is sensitive enough to pick up a coin off the floor. Fortunately, babies do not use the trunk to nurse. They use their mouths and have to learn to how use the trunk to drink water from a river or watering hole. When young babies that are used to nursing are seen at watering sites they often stick their whole head under water to drink. They learn how to use their trunk by watching the older members of the herd.

"We are outta here!"

Born almost blind newborn elephants use sound, touch, smell and instinct to follow their mothers. The herd protects the babies and usually they will be surrounded by larger elephants when the herd is moving.

All pictures, by my fabulous hubby! He is processing a ton more elephant shots! I can't wait!

Training (Oh yeah! I have a silly little triathlon thing coming up)

Thank you all for your votes of confidence and advice. I am really nervous, but fortunately Barb's Race does not have cut offs since the Vineman Full IM is held at the same time. That is why I chose it for my first and why I really signed up for a half ironman distance race MUCH earlier than I would have if there were cut offs.

My 6 mile tempo run went very well yesterday. The weather has cooled off and I forgot how much more enjoyable running is when it it is not 95 degrees! It was a great run. I have a short bike ride with intervals today and my swim class.


Becca said...

Those elephant pictures are ADORABLE. I'd have been upset to have missed that too. I was obsessed with elephants when I was younger too. Some of the only stuffed animals I still have are of elephants.

Thanks for posting the pictures and best of luck with the rest of your training!

E said...

Love the pics of the baby elephant.

Have fun on your bike ride and at swim class.

Sarah said...

What a phenomenal trip - once in a lifetime!! I love the baby elephant. Hee.

Anonymous said...

Awesome pictures!

I just love your blog name!!

Hey, you're gonna do great at Barb's Race. Geekgirl will be doing it, too...you oughta drop her a line if you haven't already.

Best of luck, and have fun out there. I like the longer races - you get more for your money ;)

Stef0115 said...

Those photos are beyond amazing. I'm going to send a link to this post to some friends. We went to Thailand three years ago and our unanimous favorite part of the whole trip was the elephants. They weren't in the wild though.

So you have all day to finish Barb's race. YES! Not that it will take you all day -- not even close. I'm already looking forward to your race report.

Calyx Meredith said...

I love elephants. Their herd structure and socialization processes are fascinating! There was an elephant ... rehabilitation? rescue center? near where I used to live. It specialized in caring for elephants who'd been isolated and/or had behavior issues. (In TN - weird, huh?) I used to donate to it every year. I love your (hubby's) pictures and your stories. Hope to hear even more. Good luck ramping up (to taper) for Barb's race!

Jane said...

Very educational! Baby elephant so cute. Regarding the post above - see how many bike miles you've put in? I think you'll be fine.

ShirleyPerly said...

Oh, I'm sure you were bummed to have missed seeing the baby elephant in person but, thank goodness, your husband is a FANTASTIC photographer. That lil baby elephant is ADORABLE!!

Lindy said...

lovely pictures. And that pesky little half ironman? You're going to ROCK THAT SHIT!!!

Erin Leigh said...

OMG that is breathtaking!!! I love these pics.

I am the same way, all or nothing...