How do elephants sleep?
Well, most of the time they will rest or sleep whilst standing up. At other times, very young elephants will lie down close to their mothers. These elephants are typically not that approachable by vehicles though, as the sound of the engine gets them lumbering awkwardly to their feet long before one has gotten close enough to view them.
Sometimes though, there are adult bull elephants who take to sleeping at night, on their sides. As our camps have no fences surrounding them, it happens that we often have wildlife like elephants moving about amongst our tents. Big shady trees are sought-after not only by us, to place our tents under, but also by bull elephants, who will be feeding on them. Sometimes, after feeding, the more relaxed individuals will then lie down carefully and fall asleep. They usually find a termite mound to rest up against, so they are not lying completely flat.
I was doing the early-morning guest wake-up at Jacana camp when I almost walked into this particular bull. He was lying with his feet projecting into the pathway, and snoring gently. Unlike the rest of him, his stomach was very active though, and there was a variety of interesting sounds emanating from his rear. I quickly fetched my camera, and then crept up closer to the sleeping bull. I was concerned that the sound of the camera shutter would wake him. As I was quite close, that would have been a bit startling for both of us. I overcame the problem by timing my shots to coincide with the elephants gastric emissions. It worked just fine. He never heard a thing, although at one point he did wake up, opened an eye, and shifted his legs around a bit. I stood completely still, and he looked right through me. We had to wait for him to wake-up and move off of his own accord before collecting the guests from their tent!
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