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Elephants on hind legs with trunk at full stretched to reach leaves on the treetops

It seems this elephant may be confused about its species as it was caught standing on its hind legs and feeding itself from the top branches of a tree – just like a giraffe.

The huge animal performed the incredible act of using its trunk to pick up succulent leaves in a picturesque forest in Zimbabwe. This unusual behavior has rarely been photographed, but one lucky early-bird photographer caught three elephants as the sun rose over the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mana Pools.

This behaviour, often attributed to giraffes, has made Mana Pools elephant famous but it has rarely been seen on camera. The elephant group consists of two young bulls known as ‘askari’, which guard the older bull, who teaches them the skills they need to reach the leaves of the treetops.

South African photographer Morkel Erasmus, 29, captured this unique action while following three baby elephants he had seen the day before. Morkel said: ‘The trees in alluvial forests are enormous and even an elephant has the difficult task of trying to reach a few juicy leaves. ”

“It was clear to us that the younger bulls have not yet mastered the skill of balancing on their hind legs, and they were still ‘learning the rope’ from their former owner, who has proved quite adept in this area.

‘They protected him while he reached for the leaves. They are his eyes and ears as he gets older. ‘I couldn’t believe our fortune in witnessing this spectacle in this kind of light in such an open patch of forest. Mr. Erasmus spent two hours photographing the elephants and said the adrenaline-filled morning was one of the highlights of his photography career.

He said: ‘It’s an unspoiled piece of Africa, one of the last truly ‘wild’ places free from commercialization and undue human greed. “All of that may change as there is now a threat from heavy minerals mining in the area, which will potentially destroy the ecosystem.”

The site is located in the Lower Zambezi Valley, on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, downstream from Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba.

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