At the exuberant age of five, Finn Johnson can already confirm that life in the Western Cape is full of incredible surprises. While adventuring for fresh companions, the intrepid explorer soon stumbled across a pair of elephants that embodied the grandness of Ganesh. Amari and Shanti were their names, and they hailed from Mossel Bay’s Indalu farm. Johnson’s reaction upon meeting these ɢᴀʀɢᴀɴᴛᴜᴀɴ creatures was only natural: He quickly summoned the local Van Rooyen brothers, Rohan and Hanro, for an unprecedented impromptu sporting event. The ensuing cross-species soccer exhibition provided a super delightful romp for audiences everywhere.
The ᴡɪʟᴅᴇʀɴᴇss of our world is packed with all kinds of enchanting escapades, but this one-of-a-kind ᴍᴀᴍᴍᴀʟɪᴀɴ competition was completely in a class of its own. These majestic mammoths weigh more than 6,000 pounds apiece, so the pint-sized 37-pound youngsters paled in comparison. Fortunately, elephants appear to be sportsmanlike animals, and they kindly accommodated the meager stature of their opponents. These intelligent giants even understood the rules and made two solid goals during gameplay.
Since being ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇᴅ four years ago, Amari and Shanti have roamed freely with guests while under ranger supervision. It also helps that the camerawomen, Fiona Ayerst, is an expert in ᴡɪʟᴅʟɪꜰᴇ photography. As Johnson’s mother, here’s how she described the mutually advantageous occasion.
Fiona said: “Finn’s competitive spirit was definitely piqued. As the boys settled into the game Finn realised that elephants can’t jump and this obviously didn’t help the bulky pachyderms in the ‘header’ area. Brawn was definitely weighed in favour of the elephants but ultimately the dribbling skills shown by the boys won through. If it’s true that an elephant never forgets, it may be best for Finn to try another game next time. Football is an enrichment game for the elephants. The game is perfect for co-ordination and also for keeping the elephants stimulated. This day was a win-win situation for all, Finn got to have some fun and pit his skills against a large animal and the elephants played a stimulating game.”
Johnson definitely has one thing in common with the elephants now: He will remember this day forever! This wondrous little nature assembly featured big beasts alongside an even larger sense of courage. Finn added: “It was a bit scary at first because the elephants were so ʜᴜɢᴇ but as soon as I started scoring goals and beating them I wasn’t scared anymore.”
Indalu is home to lots of wild African animals and elephants, Shanti and Amari have been living there since being ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇᴅ more than four years ago. Everyday both the elephants and their rangers roam the farm and guests are invited to meet and walk with them in the wild. During this time guests are told about the ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛs to elephants and learn more about how they live. To prepare the elephants for meeting strangers, there are exercises that the rangers perform daily including kicking a football.