Are Etosha elephants green, white, grey or brown?
31 October, 2013
by Anja Denker
Etosha, meaning ‘Great White Place’ consists of a large mineral pan of pale greenish-white clay, silt and mineral salts, all baking under the fierce African sun. The salt desert supports very little plant life except for the blue-green algae that gives Etosha its characteristic coloring.
The startling contrasts of color make for a visual, photographic feast which seems to apply especially to the elephants who love to wallow in the water and mud.
I came across my first ‘green’ elephant last week, that particular elephant coating himself with the green algae slick of the pan and gaining a distinctly ‘mouldy’ appearance in the process!
The ‘white ghosts’ of Etosha can be observed frequenting the Nebrownii waterhole, where the dry white clay dusts their skin and coats the entire elephant in white – often brilliantly offset against the bright blue sky.
It is also a treat to photograph elephants at the Goas waterhole, due to the fact that it is so vast and open and very green especially in the rainy season, creating a great contrast between the blue sky, green vegetation and gentle grey giants.
Elephants have always held a fascination for me, not only because of their impressive size, but also for their remarkable intelligence and emotional capacity, demonstrated by their communication habits, mourning rituals, deep sense of family ties and fierce protection of their offspring.