The patience of a thirsty elephant

African Elephants are well known for their ability to find underground water and digging wells to reach it. While exploring the Kruger National Park in September we came across this bull patiently waiting, trunk draped over a tusk, for his well to fill up sufficiently for another sip, and repeating the process several times over. Aptly the dry stream is called “N’watindlopfu” in Tsonga, meaning “of the elephants”.

26 thoughts on “The patience of a thirsty elephant

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      It took about 5 minutes for a sufficient amount to seep through for a trunkful, Tracy. Depending on how thirsty he was it could’ve been a long wait, considering that big bulls like this may need up to 300l a day!

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  1. Anne

    I first came across this phenomenon in Savuti where a small group of elephants worked at digging in the sandy river bed for water. During our last visit to Kruger, which must be about four (!) years ago, when it looked to very dry, a maintenance crew were fixing water pipes close to one of the camps which the elephants had dug down to and ripped open to get at the water. I imagine they can smell the water underground.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      They’re very perceptive animals and I agree Anne, they must be excellent at smelling it out. One of my most precious memories is standing in a dry riverbed of one of the reserves in Zululand and actually hearing the water flowing just beneath the top layer of sand. Walking along the stream I found a stretch where the water was flowing, crystal clear, above the sand, only to disappear into it again a short distance away. An awesome experience in the true sense of the word.

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