The African elephant is the largest and heaviest terrestrial mammal in the world. They are extremely intelligent and incredibly powerful animals that alter their surroundings to the benefit and sometimes to the detriment of whole ecosystems. Due to their size, elephants have to feed constantly, even through the night, consuming up to three hundred kilograms of food per day. With such a big appetite comes a great thirst. Elephants must drink daily to facilitate the digestion of the large quantities of coarse plant material that they eat. Elephants will take in over a hundred litres of water per day. Elephants do love water a lot, not only for drinking but also for bathing and swimming and finding elephants near water in their natural habitat is always a very entertaining and amusing experience. With this in mind, elephants also become very protective about the water they claim belongs to them and are known to chase off animals like buffalo, warthogs and zebra, especially when water sources are dwindling during the dry months.
It was during the middle of a hot day in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, when I came across a large herd of elephants standing around a man-made waterhole that are pumped twenty-four hours a day. This waterhole is one of only a few places in a vast area where elephants can find water. Due to this fact, things can become a little overcrowded and sometimes tense, leading to some very amusing behavior. I was busy filming the herd of elephant standing around and drinking from a trough where the first fresh water was coming from. I suddenly saw a huge splash of water flying through the air and decided to focus on what was going on. Confused at first by what I saw, I quickly realized that a large bull elephant was actually swinging his trunk around in circles like a hosepipe before releasing a big spray of water in to the air. In front of the bull elephant was a baby elephant and the water smashed straight into it. The baby elephant looked flustered and slowly turned around to start moving away. The young elephant hardly had time to move away when the bull elephant swung his trunk through the air, splashing the baby elephant full of water again for the second time. This now started looking like more than just a coincidence. The young elephant moved away and went to stand next to its mother, looking to hide from the shooting water coming its way the whole time.
Being thirsty and rudely interrupted by this elephant bull, the elephant mother slowly moved forward to the water for a drink, but the bull elephant was having none of it and for a third time swung his trunk in the same direction, spraying both the mother and her baby. It was clear that the cheeky elephant was not prepared to share the water with too many other family members and made it clear not everyone was welcome at the water while he was there. It was so funny to watch how cheeky this bull elephant actually was and the manner he used his trunk as a hosepipe to spray those he did not want near the water. I also felt sorry for the young elephant and its mother but it was not long before the cheeky bull elephant stopped with his nonsense and actually allowed the mother elephant and her youngster to have a drink. Once again, watching elephants near water turned out to be a very entertaining experience.