By Mike Jones
Out of the way Nellie! This hungry elephant thought nothing of marching through the lobby of a hotel while trying to reach a particularly juicy fruit tree – to the amazement of staff.
Ian Salisbury, 68, a safari guide at Mfuwe Lodge, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia, captured the moment and said it was a ‘unique wildlife experience’.
He explains that there is a wild mango tree in the property producing fruits resembling mangoes and are a popular delicacy for the elephants of the area.
He said: “Even though there are many of these trees in the area to choose from, some elephants have, for many years, laid claim to this particular lodge tree.
“Although there are a number of routes to reach the fruiting tree, there is one particular pathway that is favourite- up the entrance steps and straight through the enclosed, reception area of the building, with hardly a care for the lodge’s human inhabitants.
“The elephants obviously remember from year to year that certain trees provide abundant food at certain times.
“Even though I have been watching elephants for forty years, and have seen just about every aspect of their behaviour, I still find the fact, that they will willingly come into such close contact with us, to be quite remarkable.
“I think anyone who spends time around elephants appreciates their intelligence and almost human characteristics.
“I tend to believe that this particular behaviour, of happily entering the lodge, reinforces the rather unique relationship that exists between elephants and people, especially those that they trust us not to harm them.
“This unusual behaviour is something that all our guests want to witness and photograph.
“We get all kinds of human reactions, from great excitement to tears of joy at witnessing such a close encounter with these giant animals.
“The fact that we are able to safely stand just a few metres away from such large, powerful animals is extremely thrilling and such a unique wildlife experience.”