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African Landscapes from South Africa- Elephants

Updated on July 1, 2014
Keep you distance
Keep you distance | Source
Herd grazing in Addo Elephant Park
Herd grazing in Addo Elephant Park | Source
Eye to eye
Eye to eye | Source
A herd on way to river
A herd on way to river | Source
Waterhole with baby learning to drink water
Waterhole with baby learning to drink water | Source
Close up
Close up | Source
Perhaps too close for comfort
Perhaps too close for comfort | Source
Domkrag Dam-Addo.
Domkrag Dam-Addo. | Source

African Elephants

African Landscapes from South Africa: The Animal connection.

Situated on the Southern tip of the huge African continent is the Republic of South Africa. It enjoys an interesting history because of its important position on the shipping routes between Europe and the East and the discovery of diamonds and gold.

Today it is famous as a tourist destination with more that a hundred National Parks, Game Reserves and Nature Reserves. Some are run by the National Parks Board, some by Provincial Authorities and others privately. Some areas are national heritage sites and others simply places of beauty.

Cape Town, the Kruger National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains are just a few names that come to mind. For the young crowd Super Tubes at Jefferies Bay calls with the perfect wave. Adventure tourists can hike, climb, paddle, bicycle and run to their hearts content and then come back for more. The weather is great and the slogan “Sunny South Africa has long adorned the tourist bill boards.

At the head of reasons to visit South Africa are the animals. Allow me introduce you to just a few in this and the following articles:

The African Elephant.

It is called African to distinguish it from its smaller Asian cousins. It is the largest land animal and is found in many of the game reserves in South Africa. A visit to Kruger National Park, Addo Elephant Park and many other provincial and private reserves will guarantee sightings of these magnificent animals, often close to the road. An adult can reach a height of 4 meters and weigh over 7000 kilogram.

Elephants are gregarious and they feed, often in large herds, on a variety of plants and trees. They often break down branches and even trees to get to the higher leaves. An adult Elephant can eat up to 150 kilograms of food in a day and drink 40 liters of water. With the ban on trade in Ivory and the moratorium on culling the number of Elephants in South Africa has grown considerably in recent times.. Because of the amount of vegetation that they consume the vegetation in some wilderness areas is threatened because of this. As the Elephants feed every day and so often the vegetation does not have time to regenerate itself.

Elephants are very protective of their young and so it is advisable to stay well clear of herds with babies present. Otherwise Elephants feed right next to the road and can be approached quite close in motor cars for great photos.

If an Elephant feels that his/her space is being threatened a warning will be issued in lifting its trunk, waving ears and a “mock” charge. According to the experts if the Elephant is really serious in an attack it will hide its trunk by tucking it under its chin. The animal does not want its trunk injured as it uses it to eat and drink. Fortunately we have never had to test the truth of this, although we have often been given a friendly warning, even by a small one.

Elephants love water and will visit dams and river to drink and even to just cool down and play. In crossing a deep river an Elephant will use its trunk as a snorkel. They also seem to enjoy just wallowing in the mud if water is scarce. Watching a herd visiting a waterhole is simply amazing. They will approach a waterhole in a large herd with mothers protecting their young as they near the water.

Because of their size they are not often attacked by predators but sometimes Lions will attack infants if they can separate them from the herd. As Lions usually hunt at night Elephants need to be particularly vigilant when it is dark.Just recently we camped at one of our favorite campsites in the Addo Elephant park. During the night we heard a lot of noise from near the camp including Lions roaring and Elephants trumpeting. The next day we were told that the Lions had taken a small elephant during the night. One of the reasons I prefer to camp in the National Game Reserves is that you can hear the night noises in the wild. On a more recent visit to Addo we enjoyed the sound of Jackal in the night. Sitting around a fire in a campsite is one of my all time favorite African experiences.

At the same time seeing these giants of the wild at close quarters is one of the highlights of a visit to any Game Reserve.

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    • Johan Smulders profile image
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      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Thank you so much for your comments. Come and visit our country, you will not be disappointed!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      This is so interesting and informative. I love elephants and would love to see them up close and personal as you have. I have never been to S. Africa and you have piqued my interest. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us and the photos are stunning!

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Serengeti is very far north and would be a great place to visit but Kenya is out of my reach financially.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      When's the plan for the Serengeti?

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      We have a mild winter so not a bad time to visit but avoid school holidays as they Game Reserves can be a bit crowded. Holidays are 21st June - 15th July and 20th Sept-1st Oct.and 4th Dec-about 16th Jan 2014.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Gosh, I want to see these great animals, and believe me, you are convincing me. My passport is still good, I have priced flights, I am now researching for a multi-flash for my camera, and I still need an 800mm lens. You're experiencing winter now, right?

    • Johan Smulders profile image
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      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      While the Rhino are under serious threat the Elepahant in Southern Africa is doing well.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 4 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thankyou for this fine work Johan. I was cheered when I read that the population of elephants is on the rise, because I have read many reports of the butchery of the ruthless ivory poachers. I was under the impression that the viability of the species was in question.

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks for your comments, Giraffe is coming up.

    • celeste inscribed profile image

      Celeste Wilson 4 years ago

      Elephants are one of my favorite animals in the wild. It is almost therapeutic to watch them, from a distance of course. Thank you for a great and informative article.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      Fascinating creatures - I recently watched some elephants make an annual pilgrimage. Each year they would take the same route, only this time there was a large hotel built right in the middle of their usual route. Undeterred the elephants simply walked right through the hotel just as if it had never been built. Interesting Hub Johan, I look forward to reading your next one - especially if it is about Giraffe - my favorite of all the animals in Africa!.