Conservation & environment

One of my favourites – Elephants

17 January 2016

Gentle giants, well, kinda…. they tend to be a little moody and are known to charge when you get too close. You know what I mean. For the most part they amble about the Serengeti looking for tasty trees and grasses, happily going about their business. They are highly social, very protective of their young, kick frisky male teenagers out of the herd and led by all powerful matriarchs…sound familiar? There is a close resemblance to my family structure!

They are the largest terrestrial mammals, bulls weighing over 6 tons and measuring in excess of 4m in height. The African elephant is part of a clade/family tree (Peanungulata), with relatives including sea cows and hyraxes; odd, I know, however there is no arguing with genetic evidence. Now I know why hyraxes around camp have such big personalities – it’s in their genes!

Elephants are highly intelligent and considered on a par with primates and cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). They have a complex vocabulary, some ‘words’ audible and others inaudible (infrasound/low frequency) which is also ‘transmitted’ through the ground and sensed at great distances through their feet. Go figure…. Elephant feet are soft, padded and highly sensitive, which not only facilitates communication but also gives them the uncanny ability to sneak around the bush – I have had a herd of 30 walk by the office and if I not seen them I would not have known they were there.

I love them, being spoilt at this time of year as there are plenty of them around due to an abundance of food and water. If you are on your way to Lamai look forward to being bewildered – their presence is overwhelming, especially if you find yourself in a middle of a herd while on a game drive.

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