elephant valley

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  • natgeovideo by @shaulschwarz - Elephants walk and swim in lake Kariba, Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume. African elephants are in trouble. Their numbers have fallen from as many as ten million a hundred years ago to as few as 350,000 today.

elephant rock

in the river valley to the west lies an old god sleeping, half submerged in the icy waters. he stands with his head barely held above the water, eyes closed as he supports the cliff on his back.


my grandmother used to tell me stories of the creatures the roamed the lands at the beginning of time, shaping our island into what it is today. this wolly mamoth was our protector, guarding faithfully over his land until deep cold sent him to sleep; when the snow melted away, the old gods were gone and the world belonged to humans.


most would dismiss these stories as bedtime stories; i know better. staring up at the stone mamoth, collosal and dwarfing me in every way possible, makes it hard to think him as a fairy tale.


i went out and found him by accident when i was young, out playing and venturing a little too far. the sight of him used to scare me. now, i find comfort in his prescense, telling him of my loneliness and how often my parents argue and all my fears for the future. i leave him offerings of carved wood and burning candles as my grandmother taught me while she was still alive.


in all the years i’ve visited him, never once has he stirred. i believed him dead and still, locked away in hard stone. but he was still the closest friend i had, out here miles away from the nearest village.


the shaking of the earth wakes me one day, tossing me roughly out of bed. i stumble, blinking rapidly to adjust to the darkness of night. despite the tremors beneath my feet, nothing in the house moves.


something was calling me out into the dew covered plains and hills, almost commanding me to move. i feel the deep sound reverbate in the hollows of my ribs, and grab a flashlight to light my way.


the dew was a biting cold beneath my bare feet as i follow the sound to its source, barely keeping my balance as the earth beneath my feet tremeble and shake rhythmically.


i manage to slide down the steep hill to the edge of the river and freeze. the mamoth rock is covered in moss where it was bare the day before. moonlight shines down on it, making the stone glow as the earth shakes harder under me, knocking loose small stones that fall into the river.


when i look up, the mamoth rock opens its eyes.


the old god has awoken.

3

Was watching Cage the Elephant perform and guess who was watching, too? Knew those kids had to be related to Foster,which was confirmed when he said his family came from Ohio to watch him preform. Also think he said it was their first time in California. Lucky me at Bottlerock Napa was able to snap these pictures as Foster the People was going to perform next!

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This video could be fairly described as other-worldly. This is a drone filmed trip through some incredible landscapes in South Africa - start with penguin filled beaches, travel over Table Mountain, head up the scarp into the ancient heart of Gondwanaland, fly through deserts and valleys, and all the while view some of that country’s wildlife.

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“How many nipples does she have?” I asked as I saw her loping around on bad legs. “2, just like us Lob,” replied our guide. With every question I had, our guide Petch’s Thai smile grew wider and correspondingly, my curiosity grew more unhinged. I felt I had many questions about elephants and so ignored the sharp elbow to the side from my wife and asked away. “You ask many questions, Lob.”

About an hour north of Chiang Mai is The Elephant Nature Park. You can almost hear the Jurassic Park theme play as you enter the leafy jungle road. Tall, green and lush trees trap the humidity at a low level, and even though I’m in an air-conditioned van, I sweat. For a city boy like myself, it’s rare to see an animal that is not a dog or cat. So when I first saw elephants on the road the on my way to the park I was floored. Big, hulking yet effective in their strides, I saw about half a dozen elephants saddled with wooden boxes carrying two people on their backs and a guide. I was amazed as to how animals of such power, and from what I’ve heard intelligence, can be trusted with three souls on their backs.

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