Big 5, Kruger National Park
Weigh up to 7 000 kg
newborn calves 100 kg
Stand 3 metres shoulder height
Duration of life is 55 to 70 years
Walk at about 10 kmh but will charge at 40 kmh.
Estimated there are ........elephants in the park.
Notes of Interest
The elephant's huge floppy ears are his air conditioner. He flaps them to control his body temperature by cooling the blood in their many blood vessels.
He has 6 sets of teeth in a lifetime to grind up the daily food intake of up to 200 kg of leaves, grasses, twigs and bark.
His tusks, his glory and nemesis, are really overgrown teeth. They are not meant for ivory snooker balls or carved jewellery, the elephant needs them for protection, loosening tree bark or digging for water. The record length is 3,50 metres with a weight of 102 kg.
The elephant's trunk is unique, powered by 40 000 muscles. The last word in handy gadgets which he uses for drinking (up to 100 litres), trumpeting, smelling, investigating and plucking morsels beyond the reach of giraffes
Their herds are led by a matriarch, cow elephant, with her dependent offspring and grown daughters. Males live separately, alone or in bachelor herds.
Sound is important in an elephant's life. They communicate with each other through a low growling which sounds like a rumbling stomach. When frightened they produce high-pitched screams and when angry, a terrifying trumpeting.
The sole of an elephant's foot is like a mosaic pattern, hard, with sharp pieces of the hardened skin standing out so they can walk silently through the bush .
They sleep standing up
Elephants have one calf after a gestation period of 22 months. They have a highly developed social sense and the whole herd will help protect this calf.
This is probably the most impressive animal one can encounter in the African Bush. In the park you will see herds or single animals, single animals normally being bulls that have been chased out of the herd.
If you come close to them make sure that you have an escape route. I have seen many times that visitors come far too close and when an animal charges there is no way out.
This nocturnal and solitaire cat is at times a bit difficult to track, though on my last visits to the Park and also the neighbouring private reserves I have almost all the time been able to track down leopard.
If you look for them also look in the trees - since that is where they are most of the times during the day time. Their home is normally dense bush or also rocky outcrops.
Another impressive one of the Big 5 and there are large herds around the Kruger National Park - a few that consist of almost 100 animals. Found generaly close to the water particular around the Lower Sabie region where I have seen them almost on every visit.
The trumpeting elephant is an elephant that is feeling threatened. If you are close by, make haste to get away from it. Their trunks will most likely be in a type of periscope position at this time.
They are social creatures, with closely knit family groups. They hug each other by wrapping their trunks around one another, they also nudge their young gently with their trunk too, and, as a young child does, a baby elephant (calf) sucks on its trunk too.
Buffalos fall into the BIG 5 category with ease, they are large, lumbering and have a certain reputation. They have thick horns, popular with hunters unfortunately. They are gregarious and are generally quite fearless as they are safe to a certain degree from lions. The only buffalo a single lion will catch with ease is a baby buffalo.
It takes a herd of lions to get one mighty big buffalo down. Often the chasers became the chased though haha, when buffalos turn on the lions and start chasing them
Elephants and trees...the one loves the other, but not so for the other! haha Elephants are prolific in their destruction of trees, they pull them down and eat the vegetation off of them, with scant regard for the destructive manner in which they do so. It makes tracking them VERY easy, you just need to look for torn roots and shoots to know where they have passed by.
The trunk may look clumsy but it is anything but! It has two little finger-type things at the end of its trun which act like fingers, and are quite nimble. This enables the trunk to pick up a small berry off the ground, or clasp a thin leaf in its trunk.
Pretty amazing :)
If you are in the KNP, there is a good chance you will see buffalo, although mostly at night, or at dusk. They stand around in large herds, either as families, or as old bulls who have banded together.
This herd were lazily grazing, then suddenly something, not quite sure what, gave them a fright and the next minute, all you could see was a cloud of thick dust... then they were gone.
Elephants have various uses for their trunks, eating being one, and pulling down trees being another... but another rather important one is to keep itself cool! Elephants live in hot climates generally, the KNP is a very hot climate certain times of the year, and they squirt cool water over themselves to keep cool in the blazing heat. After that, they squirt a fine layer of dust over themselves... which, when combined with the water, makes a thin type of mud layer... their sunscreen :)
They also use their trunks as snorkels when they wade in deep water. They are incredibly good swimmers, something which I dont think many folk realise :)
5 day 4 night Tour
Upon arrival at OR Tambo International Airport, you will collect your hire car (Toyota Corolla or similar) and begin your Safari.
Your first stop will be Stonecutter’s Lodge just outside the picturesque town of Dullstroom.
Stonecutters Lodge is a trout fishing and holiday venue of exceptional quality. Travel to the Mpumalanga Highlands, just two and a half hours from Johannesburg International Airport, and stay in this 4 star-graded lodge. The lodge lies between Dullstroom and Lydenburg, in the heart of South Africa's fly and trout fishing territory. A superb chef provides guests with meals of outstanding quality....
Click the website link to view the full itinerary as its to long to post.
The KNP elephant is NOT an animal to be messed with or taken lightly! It weighs easily in the average of 6 tons when fully grown, and is easily riled when frightened!
It has unfortunately beein hunted for many years for its ivory. They are also quite destructive, leaving a pathway of despair when they trundle through the bush!
Hunting is banned in the KNP but there are still some poachers that get through and manage to make a kill :(
Elephants can drink quite a lot of water in one sitting, as much as 7.5 litres can be sucked in at any one time.
It then proceeds to curl its trunk under, sticking the tip of its trunk in its mouth, and blows the water in.
This may not be easy, surely at K.N.P. it is not difficult. The big five are --
We saw all of them at one go in when we went on a Guided Sunset Game Drive. We also spotted the Big 3 so many times during our drives there, but the big cats we got to see only once. We just missed sighting a leopard twice!! But nevertheless it is so exciting to spot, photograph/video graph the animals and try to understand their habits and habitats.
The Big Five animals refer to the most difficult animals to hunt in Africa, a term that was invented years ago when hunting in Africa by Europeans was in vogue. Today, spotting the Big Five is the quest of anyone on a safari. The five animals are the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant. I was fortunate enough on my safari to see all five, but I didn't achieve this until the very last safari ride we did. Altogether, we spent 3 days, with two rides on each day. The easiest to spot among the Big Five is usually the elephant, and the hardest is the leopard, followed by the lion. See the attached photos... and for more, take a look at the travelogue: "The Big Five."
Welcome to the biggest killer of Homo Sapiens (humans) in Africa. No, not lions, not leopards, not elephants, not rhinos, not wildebeest (i.e. none of the Big Five), but hippos. Regarded as benign water dwellers or grazers, getting in their way is not a good idea. Even most lions think twice about tackling these lads (and lasses) - that said lions do get the odd one of even these.
Before you ask (especially for Americans - you'll realise why I say this if you read the little bit about giraffes blow), the plural of 'hippopotamus' is 'hippopotami' and not 'hippopotamuses'. ;-)