Satara Summer 2021 – Admiration for Elephants

It is estimated that there are over 30,000 African Elephants in the Kruger National Park (SANParks annual report, 2020-2021, p48) and as a result visitors to the Park can bargain on regular encounters with these charismatic animals. That certainly was the case when we visited in December 2021, and as they are among our favourite animals you will hear no complaints from us.

Could there be anything cuter than a baby Elephant!? Judging by the number of tiny calves in each of the herds we encountered the Kruger Park’s Elephant population is very healthy and still growing!

There are few things in wild Africa as imposing as an Elephant bull

When encountering a bull Elephant in musth on the road, it is wise to give them a wide berth. In this state Elephant bulls are very irritable and down right aggressive, making for some exciting and memorable encounters. With their elevated testosterone levels these bulls simply ooze self-confidence and I simply love that assertive swagger that goes with it. On the 19th of December this bull made us reverse for quite a few kilometers along the H6-road between Satara and Nwanetsi.

It took only one mock charge from this musth bull we encountered along the very narrow and winding S147 Ngotso Loop to convince us to vacate his vicinity.

When bulls in musth meet they are bound to get involved in serious fights for dominance and mating rights. These bulls clashed just outside the Tshokwane Picnic Site – it is the roofs of the Ranger Post that you can see in the background of some of these images.

On Christmas morning, just a few minutes away from Nwanetsi, these two younger bulls provided great entertainment. They seemed to be in the throws of fighting, but one of the combatants kept trying to keep a tree between him and his adversary. It was funny seeing how the one would push down the tree only for the other to try and re-plant it between them before the argument would move to a different tree or bush where the whole sequence would be repeated. Eventually one’s nerves gave in and he tried high-tailing out of the area as quickly as he could, but the other would not have any of that and followed at speed.

Older bulls often carry very impressive ivory; long and thick. We are always delighted to see these icons of Kruger.

We encountered this particularly impressive one-tusked fellow on three separate occasions during our December 2021 visit to the Kruger National Park.

Some bull Elephants with notable tusks are given names by the Park staff. This is Kukura, a tusker first recorded in 2015 and monitored since then by the rangers and researchers in the Kruger National Park.

 

32 thoughts on “Satara Summer 2021 – Admiration for Elephants

  1. photobyjohnbo

    Elephants are fascinating creatures. I have watched a couple of documentaries on their lives. The one most memorable focused on a group headed by the aging matriarch and her struggles to keep the youngsters alive as they moved to their summer watering home.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Talking about good documentaries about elephants, John, you must see if you can find “Reflections on elephants” by Dereck and Beverly Joubert. To my mind the most evocative film ever made about these amazing animals.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Writer Lori

    What an amazing sequence of photos! I love the elephants and am so happy to hear that the population is thriving in Kruger. We, too, had a close encounter with a big bull in musth when we visited the park…certainly got my blood pressure up. 😳 We we’re happy to give way and move along….

    Like

    Reply
  3. Tranature - quiet moments in nature

    What an amazing encounter on the road Dries, you really captured the bull’s attitude in these images! A beautiful series, thank you so much for sharing 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  4. Aletta - nowathome

    Olifante is darem maar ongelooflik groot! Die ou bab olifantjies is te pragtig en soos Corna se hulle mag klein wees, maar ek sal hulle beslis nie onderskat met sterkte nie. Was eenkeer ook met ‘n skool toer daar en het by die Punda Maria hek ingegaan. Ons het ook ‘n groot mannetjie raakgeloop wat die bus graag wou wys wie die baas is. Was maar moeilik vir die busbestuurder om so agteruit te ry, die kinders was vir ‘n verandering doodstil! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. wetanddustyroads

    Dit is darem ‘n pragtige dier! En weereens laat dink jou pragtige foto’s my aan ‘n kinder rympie wat ek en my broer altyd oor en oor vir mekaar opgese het:
    “Oom Olifant, jou reuse dier. Die mense lag vir hul plesier. Want waar het jy al ooit gehoor van ‘n stertjie van voor en ‘n stertjie van agter?”
    Die klein kalfies lyk so lomp, maar is heel waarskynlik nog steeds ‘n sterk dier! Dankie dat jy julle mooi foto’s met ons deel.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. H.J. for avian101

    I think the African elephant takes the first prize among all the animals in the wild kingdom. They are very popular and so unbelievably large. Thank you D. & your official assistant photographer Joubert. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. lois

    First hippos, then elephants…my week is made! The baby elephants are so cute. And the others fighting with the tree in the middle…that is funny! Great storytelling photos, Joubert!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  8. Anne

    What a wonderful collection of dramatic elephant pictures you have put together here. The elephants in the KNP are far more aggressive than those in Addo and it is far better to give way to them. That large bull bearing down on you looks just the sort you do not want to ‘mess’ with.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      That Addo’s elephants are probably the most laid-back wild elephants anywhere on the planet is certainly true, Anne. But is there a sight more beautiful to behold than a Kruger tusker come swaggering down the road towards you? Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

      Like

      Reply

Please don't leave without sharing your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.