My most favorite member of the antelope family is the eland, which also happens to be the world’s largest antelope. Though heavy, it has the endurance to maintain a trot and can jump a 4-feet fence from a standstill. My first encounter with an eland was in October 2011 in a lodge adjoining a national park in Arusha. The lodge has a watering hole and various types of animals would go there in the afternoon to drink water especially during the drier months. My first eland was a humongous female with long lashes and an amiable demeanor. Though wild, it was not shy and wanted to be petted and seemed to have gotten used to human guests in the lodge. It was love at first sight.
Since then I’ve been always in a lookout for elands every time I’m in the bush. Elands are found throughout Tanzania’s safari regions, but they are difficulty to observe up close and approach for good photos. Out there in the wild expanse of the northern savanna you may see them only at some distance because they are naturally alert and wary. They are shy, easily spooked, and would run away when they detect human presence. They are also not territorial and have large home ranges, making it even more difficult to determine where they are.
I would spot one or two from afar during game drives in Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Manyara, and central Serengeti. I would see one or two during hot air balloon safaris. I also spotted a magnificent herd in Kirawira in western Serengeti two years ago, but they were as usually far from the road and we were in a hurry to return back to camp. This was my first time to observe a herd up close. It was surreal admiring them grazing nearby and taking lots of photos of them even just for 3 minutes before they moved away. These photos were taken one fine afternoon in July near the banks of the River Mara in Kogatende, northern Serengeti.