Adapt or Die: A Trunk-Squirting Elephant's Story of Survival

I was rounding a bend yesterday afternoon when I spotted an elephant bull quenching its thirst from a small pool. I immediately noticed that half of this elephant’s trunk was missing…

A snare wound, a natural injury or even a birth deficiency could have caused this. At first it seemed clear that he was struggling to drink, his trunk did not reach his mouth – it was short by almost a metre yet strangely I could see him swallowing.

© Marlon Du Toit

© Marlon Du Toit

This is when I realised that the young elephant had adapted to his disability in the most incredible way!

Somehow, he had to bridge the gap between his mouth and the tip of his trunk – he did this by squirting the water through a tiny hole in his trunk, bullseye into the middle of his mouth. His accuracy was alarming! Can you believe it?  I was utterly astounded by this behaviour, and in all my years working as a game ranger it was definitely a first for me.  Instead of suffering from thirst, this guy had it all figured out.

Nature is incredible and will keep surprising me day after day. This sighting is a true story of success and an inspiration to have the courage to keep fighting for survival.

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Marlon du Toit

An adventurous person by nature, Marlon has been immersed in Africa and its beauty from a young age. Growing up alongside the Kruger exposed him to the wonders of nature and has since crafted his passion for guiding and photography. As a Field Guide at Singita Sabi Sand, Marlon specialises in connecting travellers with the secret lives of some of the most amazing creatures in the wild.

  • Sheila

    Elephants are so adaptable as their family are so attentive and loving. I have seen this before on yt. An amazing feat.

  • Nikki

    Was this in Sabi Sands? If so I’ve seen him too. Wonderful how he has adapted.

    • Paul

      Hi Nikki – yes it was in the Sabi Sands.

  • Elmarie Malan

    Love it! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Sharon Moser

    Have virtually followed this ellie boy for some years now. Isn’t he amazing? Thank you to Marlon for this great photo blog!

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