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Trunkless elephant

Trunkless elephant

Elephants have always been one of my favourite creatures and I find seeing an injured one even more distressing than with other animals. Today I was photographing a herd feeding on a sandy beach when I noticed a young calf that had lost most of its trunk.

An elephant’s trunk is an extremely vital part of its anatomy. It is like a 2 digit hand with which it can tear down a tree or pick up a favourite fruit. It is used for drinking – the elephant sucks water up into the trunk and then empties it down its throat – and for sucking up sand and dust to blow over itself. It can be used as a snorkel when swimming across a river and is an important means of communication and smell. To lose its trunk is obviously a huge handicap for an elephant.

I have seen trunk-less elephants before but never get used to the sight. They always look so awkward and ungainly. This calf had clearly had the accident (possibly a crocodile bite or more likely a poachers snare) a while ago as the wound was completely healed. The adult elephants were walking along the beach pulling up plants with their trunks, beating the dirt off against their legs and then sticking them into their mouths. He obviously wanted to do the same but couldn’t so had to bend down and uproot the plants with his mouth.

It will be interesting to see how the little fellow copes as he gets bigger. I think drinking water is going to be especially difficult for him.

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Content Copyright Patrick Bentley Photography

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