Staying at Satara Rest Camp, following the advice of our Kruger National Park guidebook, we opted to drive along the Timbavati River hoping that there still was some water left and the animals were drinking there. We also had the white lions in mind! We drove to the picnic site but it was almost totally dry so we decided to carry on along the river.
Eventually we found some large pools that still had water and, as expected, several animal species were congregated there. We spent some time observing their interaction until it was time to return to our camp.
On the way back we spotted a dead elephant. Although the sight was pitiful, we were already “death-conditioned” after witnessing several dead and dying hippos earlier on along the Lower Sabie River. The animal was laying in an odd position that seemed to indicate a sudden collapse.
We could see that the elephant had some small tusks and, planning on reporting the find to the KNP authorities, we took the GPS coordinates. We looked at it through our binoculars and could not observe any breathing movement. Before we moved on, we noted that there were a couple of other elephants nearby and, aware that elephants have a special attitude when confronted with a dead mate, we decided to stay and observe their reaction.
We were somehow surprised when they just walked passed it without even looking at it! Sooner, our surprise became shock when, suddenly, the dead elephant moved an ear and resuscitated. Eventually, it stood up, stretched and started to feed totally unconcerned.
It was a case of “death by deep siesta”, something we had earlier observed with humans after a heavy lunch in tropical South America.