A friend and I recently spent some time in the Knysna forest with the aim of getting a camera-trap photo of an elusive forest elephant. The managers of the area, Sanparks (South African National Parks) admit that there is at least one elephant in these forests but are reluctant to say much more. Gareth Patterson in his book The Secret Elephants believes there to be at least a handful of individuals, including some youngsters. However many people believe that elephants no longer inhabit these forests and that the occasional sightings are some kind of elaborate hoax.
These forests, better described as our Southern Afrotemperate forests, are vast and magical - and so different to most of Southern Africa. They're inhabited by reclusive animals and filled with strange (to me anyway) plants and trees.
So, in between hiking through the area we put out a few cameras, hoping for the best.
Herewith some results:
A Bushbuck ewe (Tragelaphus scriptus)
Some Bushpigs (Potamochoerus larvatus)
A Large-Spotted Genet (Genetta tigrina)
But did we, or the cameras, see any elephants? Sadly not. We saw some signs of recent activity and a ranger we met on the trail warned us of a bull in musth that was in the area.
Perhaps its better that we didn't get any photos, although I was secretly hoping that some good shots might make me famous! However the Knysna forests are such a special place that it would be tragic if they were overrun by humans intent only on seeing an elephant here. These wonderful creatures deserve to be left in peace.