Animal Studies Journal


Thirty-seven years ago, I was doing what many young university lecturers did at the time: supplementing my income by moonlighting during the summer vacation. The work in this case was a contract from the British Council to run creative writing workshops for trainee teachers in various colleges around the recently minted but already unhappy state of Zimbabwe. In one of these places there was a waterhole not far from where I was staying and I was able to wander out during the brief African twilight, before the swift onset of a night so dark it was actually impossible to see one’s hand in front of one’s face (I tried it), and watch the animals – mainly deer-like creatures of various kinds – come down for a drink. One evening I was standing there when an elephant appeared. Without a second thought I walked round the waterhole to meet it. It watched me approach and showed no anxiety when I stood next to it. And then it held its trunk to my temple.