|Images of Africa|
|by John Walker|
South Luangwa National Park is home to large population of African Elephants. Elephants are very destructive to vegetation. One of the members of the tour described an area frequented by a group of elephants as looking like it had been "nuked". Shortly after passing through this area we came upon this tentacle-nosed obliterator at a water hole (actually more of a mud puddle), almost entirely covered in mud, which it was splashing on itself with its trunk. One of the disadvantages of being an elephant is the need to scoop up mud with your nose. (This does, of course, mean you can sling mud with your nose, which has its attractions.) Elephants take mud baths and wallow in mud in order to remove ticks and other parasites from their hide. The mud dries around the ticks, which are pulled off when the elephant scrapes off the mud against the trunk of a tree. In elephant country you'll see tree trunks "plastered" with mud by this maneuver. Frequently, the bark is stripped from the tree in the process or the trunk is shattered outright, further contributing to the devastation of the landscape.