They came under the cover of darkness

The Pachyderms and the Two-Leggeds

The pachyderms
They came under the cover of darkness: four grey shapes, barely visible in the night. The soft rain muffling the sound of their footsteps on the wet, red soil. He had been there before. When he was growing up his mother would take him on a long walk every year to find the juicy fruit that they would not find anywhere else. Her gentle touch guiding him as they walked in the moonlight.


The memory of how the tangy yet sweet fruit tasted still brought him back. Even long after he had left the herd. In his wake now were three youngsters. They followed him wherever he went. He didn’t mind their presence. It was nice to have a bit of company. And the way they jostled for position was entertaining to watch. He was more than 15 years their senior and he had established dominance a long time ago.


They were getting close now. He could hear the river not too far away. And he could clearly smell the ripe fruit.


When he was about the youngster’s age, the Two-Leggeds had put up some sort of metal wire structure around his two favorite trees. For the past few seasons, there had always been an opening in the wire. And usually, there was barely any sign of the two-legged that lived there. So he and his Askaries could come and go as they pleased.


But this season he could find no opening in the wire. That did not deter him. His mother had shown him how to push his head against a specific part and it would give way; opening up a path to the two trees that carried the most fruit of all the trees in the area. He could hear the voices of the Two-Leggeds and their calves close by. But the temptation of the fruit was too much to bear…


Exactly as his mother had taught him, he put his head against the wire and pushed. The structure made a loud noise but eventually opened. The youngsters behind him could barely contain their excitement. He carefully took a step inside…


The Two-Leggeds
I was playing a board game at the dinner table with Steven’s two older children when I heard metal scrape at our front gate. During dinner, I had told them about the elephants that pushed the gate open earlier in the week. “Elephants!” the three of us said in unison.


I jumped up, grabbed my torch and switched the outside light on. There was nothing to see. I opened the front door and switched on my torch. The rain was coming down steady, giving the bush a much-needed soak, but I could not hear much over the sound of the water. The faint beam of light a disappointing reminder that I had forgotten to change its batteries after our braai last weekend.


I took a few careful steps outside and cautioned the kids to stay inside no matter what. I had no idea if the elephants were already in the yard and I did not feel like bumping into one. Elephants are extremely hard to see at night. They blend in perfectly in the dark. I kept swinging my torch back and forth, trying to pick up the glint of an eye or a shape. Something.


My heart almost jumped out of my chest when I finally saw them. Four elephant bulls were at the front gate! Their grey hides, wet from the rain, were glistening in my torchlight. The biggest one had pushed the left-hand side of the gate ajar and was standing half inside, half outside.


“Oh no! We are nót doing this!!” I shouted at them and I ran inside to look for a ‘weapon’, almost slipping in the mud. I gave Aiden the torch and told him to keep shining the flimsy light on the elephants, but to stay inside. His sister was watching the show from the dining room window.


I quickly scanned the kitchen frantically looking for something to chase the elephants away. Remembering some of the comments on one of my previous blog posts about banging cast iron lids together, I grabbed a dirty pot and wooden spoon from the stove.


“Joh daai olifante is stout nè, tannie Linda?” Aiden said to me as I brushed past him on my way outside. “Baie stout my lieffie, maar ek gaan nou vir hulle jaag!”


As soon as I got outside I started hammering the wooden spoon on the back of my dirty pot. The remnants of that night’s dinner were flying everywhere, but I did not care. I had enough of elephant invasions. I cannot even remember what I yelled at the elephants while I was banging on the pot. It did not matter. The noise did the trick and the big bull backed out of the open gate. His movement triggered the motion sensor light on our fence and briefly, I could see him clearly before he and his three buddies disappeared into the darkness.


Closing the gate behind them must have been one of the scariest things I have done in a while. Not knowing how far the elephants were and not being able to hear or see them definitely got my blood flowing.


I walked back into the house feeling quite proud of myself. And then I saw the wooden spoon in my left hand. It had split right down the middle. Haha, I guess I felt really strongly about not having elephants in the yard again. I will have to look for a bit of a sturdier ‘weapon’ and keep it by the front door for the next time they come.

Which I am sure they will…

I broke the wooden spoon trying to chase elephants away
It broke;-)


















12 thoughts on “The Pachyderms and the Two-Leggeds

  1. You are indefatigable Linda! I love the way your imagination is soaring too (Home alone, and now half of this story from the elephant’s point of view 🙂 ). Thanks for another fun, interesting and real slice of the life that you live inside KNP. So glad the veggies were saved from yet another onslaught!


    1. Thank you, Sal! The first sentence came to my mind when I was going back inside with my broken spoon. The story sort of wrote itself afterward;-)
      Yes me too! I just planted beets, cucumber, baby marrow and gem squash. Would like to see those seeds come up without elephant footprints;-)

  2. More Linda, Volgens Kobie Kruger (Outeur van “Mhalangeni” en “All things Wild and Wonderfull”) het haar man Kobus, die Olies met rou eiers gegooi. Blykbaar verdra hulle nie die reuk van rou eier nie. jy weet waarskynlik, maar sy en Kobus het vir sowat 30jaar in die Wildtuin gebly – “n tyd ook by Krkodilbrug, dalk nog in dieselfde huis waar julle nou bly.. Groete. A

  3. HEHE…
    I think we need to get you a Gong for the Front Door or something similar!

    Maybe I’ll make you an Elephant Deterrent Bell to hang at the Front door!
    I am thinking lots of tin cans with ball bearings and metal “bangers”!

    Stay safe.
    Hope to see you soon again.

    1. One of your guardian angels is on our front door now! But yes, going to save tins etc too. I feel a “how to keep elephants out of your yard in 10 ‘easy’ steps” kind of a blog coming somewhere down the line!

  4. Weer zo’n leuke blog van je Linda. Zo levendig geschreven alsof ik erbij was. Ik geniet van je verhalen en krijg dan ook weer zo’n zin in een safari…. om al die mooie dieren in de schitterende natuur van Afrika te zien. De “wilde beesten” in Nederland die ik uit de tuin moet verjagen zijn wat muisjes en sinds deze week een bruine rat die onder de motorkap van mijn auto snuffelt cq. knaagt aan het piepschuim van de motor. Ook daar helpt een pollepel niet permanent tegen ..?

    1. Dank je wel, Ella, voor je leuke bericht!
      Oh hemeltje dan heb ik toch dnek ik liever een olifant in de tuin dan een rat onder de motorkap! Een olifant zie je tenminste…!;-)

  5. You are truly becoming one with Africa. Only an old Africa hand would be likely to chase elephant like that.
    And the story is WONDERFULLY TOLD and so real you can almost feel you are there with you.
    I must do more writing…the lesson I learn from you is the more you write the better you become at it.

  6. I had such laugh reading this. I adore your blog and rely on it to make my day. It is brilliant. ?? Debbie

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