Elephant calf with severed trunk photographed in Kruger

Posted by Anita Froneman on 12 November 2020

While on a recent trip to the Kruger National Park, photographer Armand Grobler used the warm weather currently being experienced in the north of the country to his advantage.

Grobler stationed himself at Nkaya Pan in the central region of the park, hoping to see animals coming to drink and cool off.

As he had anticipated, a herd of the world’s largest land mammal made their way to the watering hole.

It was a female calf with a severed trunk, however, that captured his attention.

‘I noticed an individual elephant standing quite peculiarly with her face buried in the muddy water. When she lifted her head, I could feel my heart sink instantly in terrible anguish, as she revealed a tiny, maimed trunk, cut off only a short distance from her face,’ Grobler said.

He guessed it may be the result of an attack from a predator, or potentially a poacher.

‘It became evident that she was desperately trying to cool herself off, collecting mud with her shortened trunk and spraying it over her face and body, in a similar fashion to the other elephants,’ he continued.

‘That’s when her strategy changed. What seemed at first like a kick of frustration soon became a repetitive notion as she pounded the thick mud onto her dried belly and sides, a welcoming respite from the sun. It must have consumed great energy for her to continue these kicks and she often stood inertly, building up the vigor to continue.

‘I sat astounded, barely believing what’s going on right in front of me! The elephant would rotate from kicking mud with both feet, to collecting with her trunk and spraying what little she could over her face, ears and parts of her rear body. What was truly spectacular was when the herd finally finished their mud bath, they waited in perfect silence and stillness until she too was satisfied, before moving on as a family unit.’

Take a look at the calf cooling off:



After the sighting, Grobler consulted other regular travellers, who had also seen her before at various watering holes throughout the central Kruger. The reason for her maimed trunk is unknown.

Pictures: Armand Grobler Photography 

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