AG Secret Season Safari

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.

[slickr-flickr tag=”marlonellie” captions=”on”]

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.

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.

  • Tim

    Do you know if that particular elephant’s name is Chuma who was made famous in the National Geographic documentary Elephant Queen? He lost his trunk and tail to lions. The show’s last scene saw him reuniting with his family, alive. I think the actual filming was spring 2009. Show aired 2015.

Jacis Lodges
Africa Geographic