You can't miss them
With its impressive appearance the elephant, by far, is the easiest of the big five tob e spotted. An adult bull can be upto 4 metres high and can weigh more than 6000 kgs and that is exactly the reason why we approach elephants with great care. The thing is that it’s the only animal that can easily reduce our fourwheel drive to a pile of scrap. Especially males in musth and cows with calves make us extremely vigilant. Fortunately the behaviour of elephants is quite transparent and it’s easily noticeable whether they appreciate your presence or not. Many people think that elephants will attack when they start waving their ears or start making loud noises. This is not the case, as this is merely a warning. When an elephant attacks, the giants will run into your direction almost soundless, with its ears kept tightly along the head …
This knowledge doesn’t stop us from enjoying the spotting of big herds of elephants. Herds are led by an elder cow, the so-called matriarch and consist of other cows and calves. As soon as bulls grow up they are forced to leave the herd. From that moment on, they live solitarily or seek the company of other bulls. Only when a cow wants to mate, bulls are tolerated to the herd.
Although we are no biologists we assume that the elephant is one of the few mammals that is aware of its existence. When a member of the family dies, elephants know a real period of mourning and even years later they still return to the place where aunt or child passed away. In Kruger NP, close to Mopani rest camp, Alexander The Great, an elephant of the famous “magnificent seven”, died . Rather frequently, other elephants visit that place and pick up a bone of Alexander with their proboscis, they smell it and move it a couple of metres. As if Alexander is still being missed.
Elephants require a lot of attention and interference of man. The territories are limited by the borders of national parks and game reserves. Adult elephants have hardly got natural enemies which results in an enormous growth of population of elephants.
Big herds can cause lots of damage to their territory, and the territory of other animals. That is why it is very important that the population is regulated somehow. This is done through various programmes, like birth control, moving elephants to areas where they are less numerous but also killing of animals takes place to protect nature. Maybe the elephant is the easiest one to spot, but not really the easiest to manage in game parks.