As a rule, we drive the 4-wheelers throughout the sanctuary without going directly into the habitats, for safety reasons. But sometimes we decide to drive into the habitat to take care of smaller tasks, just so the elephants won’t be confused if we need to get inside the fences, in case of emergency. It’s good to have them acclimated to having a vehicle there, should anything critical happen. This is still done through protected contact, with the four wheeler staying a significant distance away from the elephants and only entering when we know the location of each elephant.
A few days ago, Scott took Ingo inside the habitat on the 4-wheeler for the first time. They knew Mara, Bambi, and Rana were following readily, so Scott and Ingo drove farther in front of them into the pasture; it was important to have enough time to put down some hay and snacks before the three elephants started coming through the bushes for their snacks.
The two men waited a couple of minutes and, curiously, no elephants showed up. Soon, there was a trumpet and rumble fest coming from the other side of the bushes – just the ladies being silly for reasons only they know. Normally after they have a mini-party, the elephants start following us again; this time, they stayed in their happy little party circle.
After a couple more minutes, Scott and Ingo drove the 4-wheeler back along the outer trail, towards the three girls a little bit. Right afterward, Bambi, Mara, and Rana, came through the bushes, heading towards where their food was dropped. It seems they may have wanted a little extra attention that afternoon, or they might have just gotten so excited with their party that they (gasp) momentarily forgot about snacktime.
Photo of Rana, Bambi, and Mara in full snacking mode