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  • Writer's pictureKirk

The Elephant Of Kruger national Park in South Africa

Updated: May 11

The African elephant is the biggest of the Big 5 in this country. They are actually the biggest animal to walk the earth. They can weigh over 6 tons! They are truly impressive up close. And I was up close to them many times in my self-drive through Kruger Park.

The African elephant is notable for their large ears. These ears are used to radiate heat to keep them cooler in the African heat.

They often roam in clans made up of different families. It is the female elephant, half the size of the male that leads the clan. Well, you know what they say...ain't nobody happy if momma ain't happy!

The elephant feeds on grass and leaves from the trees on the Savannah. Lucky for me they don't eat meat. I don't think my compact car would have offered much protection.

You can see the shadow of my small car in this picture:

I often was surprised by these large beasts in the park. I would go around a corner and there they were. Or I would see them suddenly emerge from the trees. Of the 5 animals of the Big 5, these were the most abundant,

They are a part of the Big 5 because of their unpredictablity and danger they pose to those that used to (and still do) hunt them. Of course, it is illegal to hunt them today, but they are often poached. The lure of the big payday in the ivory tusks is too much for the poor locals.

As a result, there are not as many elephants with large tusks anymore. As the large risked elephants are removed from the gene pool, only the smaller risked animals pass on the genes. Darwinian science in action.

I was definitely most nervous around these animals. They are very imposing by not only their size, but numbers as they move in a clan.

I have heard too many stories, not only in South Africa but also India, of the unpredictability of these monstrosities. You just never know what's going on in their massive heads. Having heard the stories, I believe the old adage about elephants having long memories. I believe they do remember the abuses they have suffered at the hands of man.

One story I heard told when I was in India was that a certain tribe had hunted and killed one of the elephants in a clan. Years later, the clan came to the village and ransacked it as an act of vengeance. They remembered that tribe and what they had inflicted upon the elephant clan, and sought revenge.

I have no idea if that is a true story or simply village legend. But the story was told to me convincing enough that I believed it anyway

Whenever I saw them in advance I stopped the car. I didn't want to get any closer than necessary. I also didn't want to be the cause of any alarm. But, at times close encounter's could not be avoided. I would exhale a sigh of relief each time they passed.

These are certainly beautiful creatures. Although nervous, I enjoyed watching them in their natural environment. I actually rode an elephant in Thailand once. I'll post the pictures some day, but it wasn't my proudest moment. It was my early traveling experience and I was not aware how mishandled these animals were at the time. Not all my travel adventures have been good.

I absolutely loved Kruger Park. I actually went twice and the second time was equally intriguing. The elephants enhanced the experience giving a feeling of both awe and exhilaration. I'm happy all the encounters here went peacefully.

GIF: not an original photo

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Mike Wells
Mike Wells
May 07
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

What a beuitiful day I can't believe you got to see so many elephants. I know there are lots of moose where we live but never have seen that many. Great pictures and great story

May 07
Replying to

Having lived nearly half of my life in Maine, I saw more elephants in one day at the park then I have in my entire entire life moose in Maine 

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