I wrote about our elephant spotting endeavours under A is for Addo, but I didn’t reveal all because I had to save something for E is for Elephant.
As I mentioned back then, we had trouble spotting any elephants in the vastness of the Addo National Park until by good fortune we came across a matriarchal group with their youngsters.
There were at least a dozen of them, ruled over by the grandmother of the group who stood for no nonsense when any of the younger males became too frisky, smacking them hard with her trunk.
At one point a young male attempted to mount an even younger female which brought down the wrath of mum. Elephantine parental discipline is quick and fierce and the male was left in no doubt that such indecent behaviour would not be tolerated.
We’d turned the car round ready to leave when two other males decided to have a duel that involved them going head to head and trying to push the other backwards.
All they succeeded in doing was to sway around in a circle, like two drunks half-heartedly brawling on a dance floor, but it had us fearing for safety of our hire car and we beat a hasty retreat.
The photo on the left is one I took of a dassie (pron. dussie) basking in the sun at the Cape of Good Hope. Believe it or not, this furry guinea pig-looking mammal is the closest living relative of the elephant.
The dassie is a rock hyrax (like those featured by Dina last week), and along with dugongs and manatees, it shares a common ancestor with the elephant, a mammal about the size of a modern day pig that lived 50 to 60 million years ago.