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DO THE ETOSHA TUSKERS

REMEMBER HANNIBAL?

About three o' clock, off the main route from Okeukujo heading east, we came upon this small herd of bull elephants watering at a seepage close to the Pan.

This work is taken from the Etosha Pan and depicts a couple of bulls in the strong afternoon light. Elephants cover themselves in mud from the water hole where they drink. Thus they take up the colour of the land itself! This mud discourages ticks and other parasites from irritating them.

In this case, the mud from the Etosha Pan is a very pale jade green and is heavily charged with finely divided mica particles. This makes the elephants appear glistening white before the mud dries on them.

It is a myth that the African elephant cannot be tamed. Hannibal used African elephants in his campaigns against the Romans in Spain and Italy and crossed the Alps twice with 37 of them. Those poor old jumbos must not have had much fun tramping through the snow and ice in the Alpine passes.

Hannibal had his first great victory against the consul Gaius Flaminius and later routed the superior forces of the Consuls Luciusn Aemelius Paullus and Gaius Terrentius Varro. The Romans were understandably impressed by these African Behemoths and were unable to counter the Carthaginian commanders dazzling tactics or his reluctant living tanks! He was a brilliant commander and was set to take Rome, when he was recalled to protect Carthage from the Roman commander Scipio in North Africa. Scipio was only able to defeat Hannibal after he discovered that these gentle giants were frightened by loud noises and in the African campaigns, the stampeding tuskers caused more damage in the Carthaginian ranks than in the Roman cohorts! It was an ignominious conclusion to such a magnificent journey through Spain, Gaul, and Italy.



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