EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: Etosha's Extraordinary Elephants: part one

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Etosha's Extraordinary Elephants: part one

Etosha's Extraordinary Elephants

Photography & article by

Nadya of OcelotEyes


Did you know that a 5-ton elephant moving through the African bush does not make a sound? Not one cracking twig underfoot, nor the sound of breaking branches... the largest land mammal sails through the landscape like a tall ship – carefully and silently! This is just one of the facts that amazed me about elephants on my recent trip to Namibia.

No wildlife documentary on even the biggest screen can compare to the feeling of being near these incredible animals. I liked elephants before this trip – I returned with a deep, resonating LOVE for elephants and for Africa!

Location of Etosha Pan, Namibia, Africa

My father and I spent an incredible week photographing animals in Etosha National Park in Namibia - the highlight of our trip. Established as a game reserve in 1907, opening the gates to tourists in 1955, and attaining National Park status in 1967, Etosha is one of the largest National Parks in Africa – over 22,000 square kilometers – even though today it is only a quarter of its original size at the start of the century.

Its territory includes different landscapes and vegetation, and protects a wealth of animal species, many of them endangered – such as black rhino, cheetah, and black-faced impala. The National Park takes its name from the Etosha Pan, a fascinating feature of the landscape – basically a huge dry shallow depression in the landscape – takes up about 20% of the Park's territory.

Nadya of OcelotEyes, Etosha Pan

There are different theories of how it formed - some say it once was a lake, that dried out when the river supplying it changed course, others say it was flattened out by a glacier during the ice age. There is a special viewing point where, during the dry months of the year, you can drive out a bit and admire the flatness, whiteness, and emptiness. During the rainy months, though, water can fill the pan, and life blossoms over what is normally just cracked white mud, inviting flocks of flamingoes to breed.

There are many different meanings to the name “Etosha” - English translations include “the Great White Place”, “Place of Dry Water”, “Place of Emptiness”, all referring to the Pan itself – though the Pan during dry months is hot and empty, not at all a good habitat for most animals.

I saw a stray ostrich there, but even he was within sight of the life-saving grassland at the edge. Surrounding the Pan, though, are various grasslands, woodlands of mopane and acacia trees, and shrublands of thorny bushes – these are the habitats of many different kinds of animals and birds. You can see herds and herds of springboks grazing, spot groups of impala finding shade in the midday sun, appreciate playful zebras at the waterholes, and admire the tall giraffes walking through the savannah. Even elephants can hide in trees a short distance from the road!

We visited during the later part of the dry season, and spent the days driving between the many different waterholes of this enormous park. The animals are very accustomed to cars, so as long as you stay in your vehicle, they ignore you and go about their natural business, giving you an amazing opportunity to stay quiet and observe them very closely!

The dry season means that the vegetation is not all green, animals are visible, and sooner or later they will have to come to a waterhole to drink, so park at one you like - and just watch. If you get tired of endless herds of springbok and zebra at one waterhole, just move to the next one – and you might see giraffes, eland, kudu, or even a rare rhino or lion.

Some of the waterholes in the park are seasonal, filling only after the rains, others are year-round natural freshwater springs, but some are man-made or at least supplemented with piped water – solar panels hidden in the bushes power the machinery, ensuring that the animals always have a chance to drink.

Evening Elephant, 8x10 photograph

In 1954, there were only about 26 elephants counted at the park. Today, you can see at least that many in a few hours at a waterhole! Etosha's elephant population today numbers at least 2,500 – and it's in Namibia's best interests to keep protecting these elephants.

Hopefully, poachers should not be too interested in them, because due to their arid environment and the minerals in the dry soil, the tusks of the Etosha elephants splinter and break before they become very large and valuable. They can also use their tusks to dig for water in the dry soil, which also contributes to breaking them – but helps all species in the area.

These elephants are studied by scientists, with research being done on their communication, the distances they travel, and even...their feet! Elephants can detect distant sounds through their feet – the rumbling of another herd travelling many kilometers away, for example. Etosha's elephants have evolved wider feet, to be able to walk softly on the dry ground – and perhaps to “hear” better?

Elephants Meeting, 8x10 Photograph

Article to be continued tomorrow...

click HERE for part two

Before you do...

Want to learn more about elephants ?

One of my favourite charities, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya rescues orphaned baby elephants and rhinos, in order to hand-raise them until they are old enough to return to the protected wilderness: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/

In Thailand, a wonderful sanctuary exists for overworked and abused Asian Elephants:


And even in Tennessee, USA, you can find a home for rescued elephants:



  1. What a fantastic trip !!!
    Can't wait to read part 2 tomorrow :)

  2. This was such a fascinating and excellent article - thank you so much, Nadya! I've always been fond of elephants. Now I have an even greater respect for them. Will definitely check back for part 2. :o)

  3. Great article! The photos are beautiful and thank you for the links to groups that help out elephants in trouble. Very cool. Looking forward to the next installment. :)

  4. So interesting that elephants can hear with their feet!!Love the pics!
    Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  5. I did not know there were manmade waterholes with solar powered machinery. That's totally awesome!


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