What more could an elephant look forward to in life than a mud bath? And though there is a protective quality to the mud & volcanic dust, it shields them from the sun (cooling them down) & from the incessant bites of insects, most elephants extol its value more for the fun points it earns than as a beauty cream or salve.
Just watch any elephant frolicking in the mud and you will see a display a joy like none other.
As a photographer and travel blogger Mike McCaffrey was keen to observe, on a recent trip* to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, that rescued orphaned baby elephants just naturally love spending time with their adopted elephant family playing in the mud.
As a part of their routine and “reintegration into the wild” the elephants from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust are led by their keepers to a mud hole near the Umani Springs ( Kenya, Africa ) Lodge, this after having spent the morning exploring in the Kibwezi Forest, just enjoying being elephants.
And yes, there is a proper procedure (to mud baths) that these precocious pachyderms have the proclivity to follow:
(Oh, must be an elephant to thoroughly enjoy this, or at least think like one!)
Step 1. Immerse or partially immerse elephant self into watering hole full of mud.
Step 2. Share in the fun of the mud hole with elephant friends and family. Splash and roll around a bit in designated mud hole.
Step 3. Emerge from said mud hole freshly covered with the “sludge” of mud, preferably dripping wet.
Step 4. Seek out orange red colored volcanic dust/ dirt ( or regular dirt colored dirt, whichever is handy) with trunks. Spray with trunks to apply all over sludgy muddy elephant skin, if possible.
In lieu of elephant sized powder puff distribute the dust as evenly as possible (not always probable) with elephant trunk or through shaking the head , trunk, and elephant body around.
Sometimes a messy job (this dusting process) but somebody’s got to do it! Tourists and visitors of the Umani Springs Lodge (also travel photographers) better watch out for naughty elephants. You may be sprayed and become an honorary elephant for the day! More fun points earned here.
Step 5. Bask in all of that cuteness. A different look, don’t you think, with that splash of color from the orangey red goodness of the volcanic dust (or the brown richness of the dirt colored dirt).
After the heat of the day is over and the African sun is lowering in the sky our elephants are ready to head back to their home at the elephant orphanage. And with all of that play a new hunger has set in; that afternoon bottle of milk served at the Umani Springs Lodge was yummy but now its supper time!
See The Daily Mail “ A Muddy Good Time ….” By Katie Amey for MailOnline for the photographs by Mike McCaffrey as described in this post.
*Mike had adopted an orphaned elephant at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in the past and as he was living in Kenya, Africa at the time was visiting to see how much “progress the trust was making” in their elephant conservation programs. It was obvious by his glowing report and photos that he was pleased.
Umani Springs Lodge Kenya near where DSWT elephants play in the mud
Travel Blogger Mike McCaffrey Blog