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Elephants galore

Written on: Tuesday November 21st, 2006

A journal entry from: The Winter of 2006/2007

  • I?m sitting here on the deck of our cabin which overlooks Addo Elephant National Park, we got here early afternoon, had lunch and then set out to do some exploring. Once inside the park boundaries you?re not allowed to get out of your vehicle as there are lions and elephants running loose and as the car thermometer read 36C we were a boiling. Just about immediately we spotted a red hartebeest (a type of deer) and then several warthogs.  After a short while we came across two ostriches, the female was laid down a short distance from the male who was also laid down and doing some strange gyrating movements, then he got up an started running at the female with his feathers flapping.  We then realised what he was doing and started our cameras recording (see video attached) he mounted the female who showed little interest an just kept pecking at food on the ground.  When he'd finished he walked proudly away, she got up and walked in the opposite direction without ever looking at him. 
  •  We were on the prowl for elephants though and knew they must be around because there was dung all over the roads, after about ten minutes we saw one but it was pretty much hidden by vegetation. Later we saw another couple but again they were in the bush and moved away when we stopped. There were numerous zebras that were very close to the road, a leopard tortoise grazing by the side of the road, he was quite accommodating turning his head so we could take a picture. Also various other types of deer. At a water hole three zebras took a drink while poppa warthog brought his young for a bath but then they rolled in the mud. After driving around for about an hour and a half we decided to return to the cabin and immediately saw kudos and hartebeests in the valley below us. Then Roger made a great spot ? a huge bull elephant was on the hillside, not very close but out of the vegetation and we were able to get a good view with the aid of binoculars. So we decided to sit here and see what else came into view, we were rewarded with more deer, warthogs, a black backed jackel and in the distance a herd of around 15 elephants. We?re hoping that they?ll move closer to us tomorrow. Tonight we?re going to the camp waterhole where some animals come for a drink later in the day and tomorrow night we?ve booked a night trip. This will take us on the hunt for lions and rhinos who don?t come out much during the day.
  • Well here we are with day 2 at Addo. Not much to see at the waterhole last night, it rained overnight so the morning was much cooler. We decided to go into the park at 8:30 am hoping to catch some good stuff. Mike went to the information station and found out where the elephants and Cape Buffalo had been spotted that morning and we headed in that direction. It was a bit disappointing at first but then we saw a Cape Buffalo just off the trail, so now we were going after elephants. Then there they were just ahead and right next to the trail. There were about 11 of them, mums, babies, teenagers, they were magnificent. They didn?t care that we were there and just kept munching away, we got some super shots. Then the matriarch decided that it was time to move on so she crossed right in front of our van, about three feet away and all the others began to cross the road too. There was a watering hole behind us which we?d already passed and when we realised that they?d had their eats and now were heading for a drink. What hadn?t been at the watering hole when we passed was the huge bull elephant that was now drinking there and I guess this was papa elephant. It was great fun to watch them at the watering hole and several warthogs enjoyed spending time with their huge friends. As we looked to our right another big elephant was approaching, this was another bull but not as big as papa. Papa now began assembling his family and before the bull got to the water, he?d moved them all out. We think this was a young bull that had been cast out. Apparently when the bulls reach puberty they try to mate with their sisters, aunts, mothers so they get swatted with the female?s trunks. In the end he gets the message and leaves the tribe, wandering alone until he meets a female and forms his own herd. We were all thrilled at our morning in the park but we were still to see more deer, monkeys, turtles and oh yes dung beetles!!
  • After lunch at the park restaurant we looked across at the waterhole and there were two elephants drinking and splashing themselves with water, another photo op. So it was back to the chalet to recharge the cameras for tonight?s night trip and here we are sitting on the patio when another herd of elephants wandered by. They were probably about 350 yards (or as Roger said a, driver away ? he wishes) and now there?s about 15 of them on the hillside. We were told it would be like this but never in our wildest dreams did we realise it would be this cool.
  • We were really hoping to see some lions on our night?s trip but they didn?t co-operate so the only animals we saw that we hadn?t seen already were scrubhares and springhares, a porcupine, striped pole-cat (skunk) and bush-pigs. We did enjoy the two hour trip though.