It doesn’t seem possible that a thirteen foot tall mammal weighing more than 15,000 pounds can sneak up on a person. But look how this elephant’s color blends in with branches and woods. And how this herd coming through the woods and preparing to cross the South Luangwa River blends in so well, it’s nearly impossible to count them.

 Elephants remind me of great, hulking ships with grey hulls as they glide silently through woods and thickets until they disappear like ghosts in the blink of an eye.

We need to have a scout with us when we go on guided walks because our senses are not finely tuned enough to hear an elephant’s footfall or realize they are headed our way until it is too late.

Sometimes poachers who live in the South Luangwa Valley make the same mistake a tourist might make. They get careless, and by the time they see the elephant they are tracking, it’s too late.

The elephant, aware of danger has heightened senses, including a well developed sense of smell and hearing and can flatten a poacher in a heartbeat. 

Elephants have been hunted for centuries. They have many of the same diagnosable symptoms as a human with PTSD, and this make them even more unpredictable and confrontational.

Elephants in the South Luanga National Park know they are protected there. While they are still wild,dangerous animals, they are more peaceful than other African elephants that live in areas where killing elephants in great numbers for their ivory is more common.

Africa Hope Fund helps support programs that allow remaining elephants in the valley to live the way elephants used to live, with less fear and fewer human/elephant conflicts.


Written by Patricia Cole

An Africa Hope Fund board member for 7 years, Pat is a writer and a conservation activist. After traveling to Zambia, she became dedicated to helping Africa Hope Fund provide education to the next generation of Africans and ensure their future by protecting wildlife. Find Patricia on Facebook and Twitter, or on her websites and

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Carol Van Brugen