Suddenly, wind betrays our presence. A ballet of telescopic trunks disappears in a single movement, swallowed by the grass.
The very same afternoon, we were driving throughout the whole area when a large cloud of dust forced me to hit the brakes. Distraught elephants cross the road, just in front of the car hood. Other animals freeze on the other side. Hesitant at first, they decide to join their kind. I do not let them, interposing between them with the car. They stop for a while, circumspect. Endless seconds enabled us to gauge their trophies whilst a massive female started to show signs of impatience. In a hollow roar, she spreads her wide ears howling with outrage, uproots a tree and charges without further notice. I press the clutch and put the pedal to the metal. She had continued pursuing us over more than 200 yards before she disappeared from my rear-view mirror, discouraged by dust and our speed. She joins back the rest of the herd where stands her young calf.
We return to camp, miming the intense reactions of each other during that brief but so hectic moment.
Yet, another night comes when the spirit wanders, tortured between memory, fantasy and hope.
Next dawn gently breaks, offering the footprints of 4 male pachyderms, estimated from late-night. I send the trackers to check of their itinerary to retrieve tracks a little further. They come back a few minutes later, overexcited on wood breakage noises. It seems the animals were resting in a small forest nearby, rich in deciduous trees.
We catch up on them pretty quickly. However, instead of 4, we are now facing a full herd of 60 elephants! A respectable bull stands out, but still not the one haunting our minds. They parade, allowing us to share a privileged moment with their unbridled strength.
All of a sudden, a new appearance refocuses all our attention. Just like 3 days ago, our Holy Grail comes out of nowhere, pacing graciously towards the herd which greets him with glee. The wind maintains its course. The colossus lightly wags behind the group. We precede him.
The African Gods show us the way. I float in a space where past, present and future communicate. At this point, I KNOW. My host pulls the trigger. Everything goes on in slow motion. The ground trembles. Eardrums hurt. Dust darkens the scene. The roaring of the herd goes away. Suspended particles fall back. The lifeless body of the giant takes shape. His ivory pierces through the sky.