Caitlin O’Connell

Elephant Country Blog 5: Behind the Scenes at Mushara

Every field season has its idiosyncrasies and challenges. This year, nature kept Tim particularly busy maintaining technology in order to keep the camp safe and operational, starting with a humane catch-and-release program for the inordinate number of brazen mice that ...

Elephant Country Blog 4: The Unseated Ozzie

After ten years of terrorizing Mushara’s male elephant population, nature has made a course correction with a certain young bull, Ozzie. Finally, Ozzie miscalculated and ended up in the same place at the same time as the magnificent, dominant ...

Matriarchs of Mushara

The activity for the night watch team hasn’t slowed as the heavy wind in the past few days has kept the elephants at bay until sunset. Two nights ago, the parade of families started with the Princesses arriving from ...

Notes From Elephant Country, Part II: Ozzie’s Back!

Mushara Elephant Project, Etosha National Park, Namibia — Ozzie showed up Friday night after three large family groups had come and gone. I recognized the metallic rattling noise he makes with his trunk and turned on the night vision to see ...

Notes from Elephant Country (Mushara Elephant Project)

There’s a baby boom in Elephant Country. And while some happily greet the new additions to the family with a pig pile (photograph above) and a wallow (below), others appear to have trouble making room and are resistant to ...

The Passing of an Elephant Don

It’s been four years now since I’ve seen Greg, the don of the boys’ club and most the dominant elephant bull at Mushara waterhole in the northeast corner of Etosha National Park, Namibia. This morning, I decided that ...

Ozzie the Unstoppable Elephant

No one informed Ozzie that he’s too young to go into musth. Somehow the dynamics of Mushara’s male elephant society over the past few years have allowed this young bull’s testosterone spikes to slip through the cracks ...

Smokey Still Smokin’ In Elephant Country

The wind is howling today in elephant country. Half way through the season and we’ve been lucky to have had only two such days. The wind is making it difficult to concentrate on data management, but after such an ...

Elephant Conservation Outside the Box

First Installment   In December, 1991, my boyfriend and I decided to spend a year traveling in Africa in between graduate degrees. But after being seduced by Africa, we never left. And from there, boyfriend became husband, and elephants the subject ...

Family Strife

Mushara Waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia – Sunset began with a visit from Paula and Nadia and their fraction of the Athlete family. We saw them break the clearing from the southwest, and I rushed to get two of my volunteers ...

Ozzie on Fire Again

Mushara Waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia — Ozzie was on fire again Thursday, parting a sea of 14 bulls with his parade of musthy pomp until he reached his target—Mike. Mike is one of the largest bulls in our study population, ...

The Night Belonged to Ozzie

Mushara Waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia — The world’s largest land creature stood on me last night—two giant feet over my head, putting me at a disturbing eye-level vantage with a dripping elephant phallus in the dark. It has ...

Time Passes at an Elephant’s Pace

Time passes at an elephant’s pace here at Mushara waterhole in the northeast corner of Etosha National Park, Namibia. The mornings are slow to materialize, a few solitary bulls drifting in like a lazy late morning gust from the ...