Dominique Gonçalves looks for elephants.

Seeing the Elephants

Gonçalves follows the elephants. She takes pictures. Some have marks that help tell them apart. One has a wrinkled ear. Others have been marked by war. One elephant is missing its tail.

She also studies how they act. One day, she and a student went out to look for elephants. After a long drive, they found a herd. One elephant was hiding behind a tree.

Gonçalves began taking pictures. When she looked again, the elephant had moved closer. When Gonçalves turned her head, the elephant charged. The elephant hit the vehicle with all her strength. Gonçalves was surprised! She thought they might get hurt.

Gonçalves observes the behavior of elephants at a water hole.

The elephant charges. This photo was taken just before she hit ​​​​​​​Gonçalves’​​​​​​​ vehicle.

Trusting People? 

The elephant charged again. But then something happened. The matriarch of the herd made a low rumble. The charging elephant stopped. She returned to the herd.

elephants in Gorongosa

The vehicle was damaged. Gonçalves radioed for help. It was clear that the elephant did not trust her. But, it was also clear that the matriarch did. Gonçalves knows that it will take a long time before all the elephants can trust people. But, this was a first step.

Protect the Natural World

Protecting the planet is vital! The National Geographic Society has set a goal to help improve the status of 100 species or populations by 2030.