Tag Archives: African Elephant

When an elephant won’t let go…

One of the most touching sightings of our recent Satara Summer in the Kruger National Park was of an elephant bull trapped in a shallow pan (waterhole) and unable to get out. Just how the bull ended up in this predicament was unclear as we arrived on the scene too late to know – perhaps it was simply something as benign as taking a mud bath gone wrong, or perhaps something as violent as a debilitating blow received in a fight for dominance. However it may have occurred, we spent several hours in the exceptional heat wishing him on every time he tried lifting his massive bulk out of the mud, watching with lumps in our throats as other elephant bulls, obviously distressed, tried to help and failed, how they had to give up on their valiant attempts, extending trunks towards their comrade as if in a final greeting. Eventually the hopelessness of his situation became too much to bear for us too and with every pause in his feeble movements we hoped that he has finally breathed his last, only to see the tip of his trunk being raised limply above the waterline once again, over and over. Why won’t he just let go..?

Dusk settled over the plains and we had to leave to get back to Satara in the knowledge that he was unlikely to see the sun rise tomorrow. Difficult as it was to watch, we realise that tragedies like this have played out in the wilderness for millennia, nature taking its course without human interference, as it should and will continue to do in places like the Kruger National Park, and whether we were there to witness it or not made no difference to the outcome.


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”.

Splish Splash!

An elephant enjoying his mud bath (or is that spa treatment?) near Skukuza in the Kruger National Park.

Elephants have right of way. Are you going to argue?

Just after sunrise last Sunday, while driving in the Mopani area of the Kruger National Park, we encountered this enormous Elephant bull in musth staking his claim to the narrow road. He was on his way to Mooiplaas waterhole and did not have any intention of letting four humans in a tiny (by his standards) metal cocoon derail his plans. In the end he made us reverse for over a kilometer before veering off towards the water.

Easter Encounters with Tuskers

One of our greatest joys when visiting the Kruger National Park is being treated to an encounter with a real “Tusker”; a majestic elephant bull carrying massive ivory. There are only a handful of these enigmatic animals on the continent, and they are living monuments to those who protect our wild places for generations to come. Owing to their special status, they are given names by the Park authorities, often according to specific areas they roam or in remembrance of rangers or other members of staff that dedicated their lives to the Park.

During our Easter visit to Kruger, we were lucky to have seen no less than three of these awesome animals. Each one of them has some unique features – scars on the ears, marks on the trunk, characteristic tusk shape, etc. that aids in the identification. We’ve submitted our photographs to the Kruger’s Emerging Tuskers Project and will update this post once we hear the names of these tuskers.

“Bull 1”

This big bull is known as “Hahlwa“, which is Tsonga for “twin” because he looks so similar to Masasana, another big tusker roaming the Kruger Park.

This last bull has not been named yet, but the project team will be keeping a close watch on him until he too receives his well-deserved moniker.

For some more pictures of tuskers we’ve seen in Kruger in years past have a look at this post.

Elephants, Elephants, and more Elephants!

If you thought our previous post on the Addo Elephant National Park was a bit short on elephant photo’s, you’d be right. But Addo’s star attractions really deserve a post all to themselves, wouldn’t you agree?

With the proclamation of the Addo Elephant National Park in 1931, only 11 African Elephants remained in the Addo district. Initially, the Park was not fenced to keep the elephants in and when they left the Park they were at the mercy of the “civilisation” that wanted to destroy them all, so the first Park manager made the decision to feed them with citrus and other fresh produce to keep them within his boundaries. Slowly but surely their numbers started growing, but by the time the Park was finally surrounded with an elephant-proof fence in 1954, there was still only 22 elephants at Addo. The unnatural practice of feeding the elephants, which in the end was done more for the entertainment of tourists than for the elephants’ sake, ended in 1979. By then the herd numbered about 100 animals, but Addo’s elephants have responded wonderfully to the protection they’ve been afforded since the Park’s proclamation, and today number over 600!

Christmas Cuties

Wishing all of our friends here at de Wets Wild a blessed Christmas from Addo Elephant National Park!

Today’s sequence shows two baby elephants sharing a Christmas morning nap. The smallest of the two really struggled to get back up when it was time to start moving with the herd again. Certainly one of the cutest things we’ve ever seen in South Africa’s wild places!


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Hluhluwe-Imfolozi’s Giants

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is home to giants; behemoths that can cause the earth to tremble with every step. And they’re not shy about showing themselves either, as we found out again during our visit in December.

Buffaloes were in evidence throughout the Park, whether as lone bulls, in small bachelor groups or in huge herds.

We could never tire of seeing elephants!

The curious giraffes tower over everything else in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, except the magnificent scenery…

It is thanks to Hluhluwe Imfolozi that we can still see the Southern White Rhino in the wild today.

We didn’t get to see the hippos on this trip, and only managed two quick sightings of black rhinos that were too fleeting for photos, but still, these galleries should be proof enough that giants still roam Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.


Addo wouldn’t be Addo without the elephants…

Last week I had the pleasure of a quick visit to the Addo Elephant National Park, and of course the Park’s star attractions delivered wonderful performances! Every herd had the tiniest and cutest of babies in attendance, and the massive aggregation of literally hundreds of elephants milling around Hapoor Dam is a spectacle I will never forget.


Them Big Old Bulls

What better way to wrap up the report back on our winter visit to the Kruger National Park‘s Satara and Mopani Rest Camps, than to appreciate those majestic elephant bulls that roam the Lowveld!