Now that’s what I call a white elephant! African giant coats himself in clay and mud to keep cool in the heat of the savannah

They say that elephants never forget, but this one looks like a morning wash may have slipped its mind.
Indeed, with its skin stained by clay and calcite sand it looks like it’s been painted with white emulsion.
The elephant was spotted surrounded by zebras at a waterhole in Namibia’s Etosha National Park.
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Namibian amateur photographer Schalk van der Merwe took this stunning image of a real white elephant in Etosha National Park
Namibian amateur photographer Schalk van der Merwe took this stunning image of a real white elephant in Etosha National Park
The unusual-looking animal was photographed by Namibian amateur photographer Schalk van der Merwe after cooling off from the blazing heat with a mud bath.
Once the moisture dried, a residue of dry white calcite sand and white clay was left covering the beast’s leathery skin.

The word Etosha means ‘great white place’, after the vast expanse of white, salt-laced earth which forms a pan in the centre of the national park.
Elephants like this one gather wherever they can find moisture, wallowing in and splashing themselves with mud and water in an effort to cool off beneath the beating hot sun.
When the mud dries they are left caked in the white earth, earning them their reputation as the ‘great white ghosts’ of Etosha.
With its skin stained by clay and calcite sand after the moisture from a cooling mud bath has dried, it looks like the elephant's been painted with white emulsion
With its skin stained by clay and calcite sand after the moisture from a cooling mud bath has dried, it looks like the elephant’s been painted with white emulsion

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