On my second visit though, I felt more hopeful of spotting some when we came upon fresh dung lying on the road:
A few minutes later we encountered this lone bull who proceeded to a wash himself in a mud pool:
An elephant's trunk is extremely versatile, it's used for plucking food and sucking up water which is transferred to the mouth or sprayed over the body for cooling.
He obligingly sat down in the mud and posed for a few seconds:
Migratory herds probably inhabited this area for thousands of years but by 1881, after the arrival of Europeans and modern firearms, there were no elephant left in Etosha.
In 1954 small numbers started making their way back into the park.
During the 70s, due to the creation of additional water points in the park to attract them and the pressure of expanding human settlements outside the park, elephants started migrating back into Etosha.
Today, there are so many that the occasional controlled culling is necessary, elephants being second only to man in their ability to destroy and alter the environment.
A few minutes after leaving our bathing beauty above, we came upon a herd of about 40 animals:
They were mainly females and their offspring - it's beautiful to watch how the smallest babes are protected and herded by the adults.
Etosha's elephants are the largest in Africa but their tusks are also the smallest.
They crossed the road a short distance ahead of us:
The driver of the car closest to where they were crossing had his vehicle in reverse gear, ready to make a quick getaway.
I don't blame him for being nervous because these jumbos can look really menacing when they're close and stare at you with flapping ears, like this group who stopped to look at his car, though in this case they were being curious rather than aggressive:
I've never heard of an elephant attacking a car - I'm not saying it hasn't happened - but, in my experience it's best to just sit quietly, starting or revving a car's engine just seems to make them more agitated, especially when there are young babes in the herd.
After this large group, we saw only two solitary males for the rest of our three-day stay in the Pans, this nice clean fellow below:
... and a bull who passed so close I was able to get a shot of his long eyelashes:
Well, after the first sightings, my visit to the pans was partially satisfying - I had seen the magnificent elephant, but no big cats, ... yet.
Amy Schoeman - Notes On Nature
RHN Smithers - Land Mammals Of South Africa
Etosha National Park - A Timeless Experience