We had a spectacular month exploring East Africa – a real dream come true and centerpiece of our trip. It was awe-inspiring to see first hand in the wild what we had only seen in zoos. Handpicking the best of the best of the thousands of photos we took, the On Safari in East Africa series showcases the animals we were privileged to see in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Elephants are fascinating. They are not only the largest land animals on earth, they're also the most emotionally human. Seeing large herds in the wide open savanna was like peering back in time. After all, African and Asian elephants are the only two surviving species of what was a diverse group of large mammals in prehistoric times. On a boat ride in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, we saw two large elephants on the shore who appeared to be kissing :) Elephants are affectionate, social and compassionate, and have unique personalities like we do.
While in Nairobi we visited a well-known orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation center. Sadly, many of these baby elephants' parents were killed by poachers. After a period of time at the center, they are carefully reintroduced back into the wild.
Our guide joked that this elephant had been trading with the Chinese. The Chinese are the world's biggest buyer of ivory (right behind the Americans). Far from a laughing matter, an estimated 36,000 elephants are being killed annually for their ivory. At this rate there will be no elephants in the wild by 2025!
Trees are elephant's back scratchers...we often saw them rubbing up against them.
An elephant's trunk contains over 40,000 muscles and can lift up to 770 pounds.