The team sees Mara and Rana in the pond occasionally, but they generally get out when they see us coming. Even though they graze throughout the day, they still love the four-wheeler snacks.
We recently spied the two of them in the pond on the cameras, and Rana looked like a pond blob. She was floating, and we could periodically see her poking her trunk out the water like a little snorkel. Mara was standing guard over Rana, allowing Rana to sleep soundly, knowing Mara was there. This behavior is typical in wild elephants, and it’s a sign of the depth of their bond. While there are no predators that could threaten an elephant in our corner of Brazil, it still symbolizes that Rana is trusting Mara with her life.
Mara wasn’t entirely wet, so it looked like she had only gone in to stand over Rana. Mara is a little bit squat, her belly is too low to stand over Rana, but it looked like she was doing the best she could. Adorably, Mara would periodically press on Rana’s backside with her trunk. They were gentle pushes that would make Rana’s bum bob in the water. We don’t know her exact reasoning, but from the cameras, it looked like Mara was fascinated by the buoyancy of her friend, who was floating.
It’s incredibly sweet to watch them standing over each other that way, even if Mara wasn’t doing the best job at letting Rana sleep.