May 2023

Elephants on the move

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Elephants on the move

It’s no secret that elephants are some of the most reliably entertaining animals to watch, photograph, observe or merely just linger in the presence of whilst out in the wild or on safari. Whether it be trumpeting tantrums amongst ambitious youngsters or mud bathing in mud wallows (often too small to harbour their large bodies), to ongoing, never-ending feeding behaviour to sustain their large ineffective digestive systems, elephants never fail to retain onlookers’ attention and often appreciation and respect when viewed at the distances we so often are lucky enough to experience here at Singita Sabi Sand.

With the changing seasons, so comes a change in not only feeding behaviour alone but also geographical movements of the herds. The month of May offers us what one could argue as close to perfect temperatures with days reaching a peak of around 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit) and mornings and evenings around 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit ). These change in temperatures are coupled with an obvious shortening of the days and with this the marula trees that fruit their tangy yellow fruits (usually around February) shed their leaves as they begin to store their nutrient output and water reserves in their roots until

the first rains to come at year end. This change offers a widely discussed shift in the elephants around the southern part of Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Reserve alike. It begins with a slow gradual movement further north and east intro the more central/eastern and northern portions of the park where their diet will switch to more grass feeding for several months. It is generally considered that elephants in the north feed more on grass than that of the southern elephants with grass species constituting around 40% of their diet during winter as compared to the southern elephants where grass only forms 10% of their diet in winter.

During these movements, guests, guides and trackers are often offered the most impressive scenes as these sometimes large herds of well over 30 to 40 individuals parade on a mission to get further north and east.

Daniel Hartman
By Daniel Hartman
Field Guide