When Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia was first built over an ancient elephant trail, no one really expected what would happen next. In the grounds of the lodge is a massive mango tree, which annually drips with the delightful and juicy fruit, a favorite among elephants all over Africa.
What they didn’t realize when they built the luxury lodge was that the elephants would have no intention of changing course, and the surprise came when an elephant herd headed through the reception area of the safari lodge.
The whole family continued to follow that ancient elephant trail, all the while heading straight for the famous mango tree. They stroll through the building, out the other side, and then gorge themselves on a feast of the juicy fruit.
It has now become an annual event every spring when the fruit ripens on the tree and the herd of elephants calmly and regally head through the building to the utter amazement and delight of visiting tourists and staff alike. Who needs a safari drive when you can sit in the reception area and watch the pachyderms pass?
As explained in the video, while elephants are renowned for being violent in the wilds of Africa, here in the luxury five-star lodge in South Luanda, they pass along the elephant trail through the building without even bumping the furniture, just giving the odd glancing peek at any humans that may be standing close by.
The elephant herd is led by a matriarch who has been dubbed “Wonky Tusk” and she is followed closely by both young and old elephants, still following the ancient elephant trail.
— Priya (@0014Priya) August 21, 2015
As it is unusual indeed for the elephants to be so calm and almost tame walking inside a building, Nathan Pilcher, a wildlife cameraman, made it his mission to find out more. He visited Mfuwe to film the amazing spectacle of the herd following the elephant trail through the building, and what Pilcher uncovered may reveal that elephants are even more intelligent that we could possibly imagine.
He said on the video that it was an amazing experience to have the elephants coming through “so close, and almost to an extent, so trusting.” However, he had no idea that this year would be unlike any other, as the leader of the herd had a brand new, 2-week-old baby.
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Pilcher said that a matriarch elephant with a brand new baby is probably the most dangerous animal ever in Africa.
“With a youngster being so vulnerable to predators, she’s incredibly protective. So when she brought this brand new baby, two weeks old, up through the reception, we were slightly concerned.”
Filming the experience, Pilcher said that he would never normally get this close to a baby elephant in the wild and that they didn’t really know how dangerous the protective matriarch really is.
“You felt very vulnerable with these huge animals and at the same time we had to be really cautious, not getting into the wrong position.”
He said that there appeared to be this unbelievable understanding from the elephants that they had encroached on a human area and knew that they were there watching.
A few weeks into the shoot at Mfuwe, Wonky Tusk’s trust in humans is confirmed without doubt. All the way along there was never any sign of tension or trust as the herd repeatedly followed the elephant trail through the lodge.
On this particular occasion, however, the whole family decided to stop in the middle of the lodge and wait while the baby, now named Wellington, lay down and took a nap on the floor of the reception.
For wild elephants to be so calm in the presence of human beings while following their ancient elephant trail is almost unheard of and the whole experience was an amazing adventure for both the wildlife cameraman and staff and visitors at Mfuwe Lodge.
In other elephant news on the Inquisitr, World Elephant Day recently highlighted the perils faced by both African and Asian elephants worldwide due to poaching and the sale of ivory. It was also highlighted that Hong Kong is the key link in the smuggling and sale of the illegal ivory obtained from poaching.
[Images: Screengrabs from YouTube video by Lion Mountain TV]