South Africa is home to many colourful creatures, but none are more sought after than the infamous Big 5. In this article, we shine the spotlight on the ever-loveable elephant that calls the Madikwe Game Reserve home.

The Nature Of The African Elephant

In recent years, wildlife conservation groups have taken to creating a distinction within the African Elephant species: the African forest elephant and the bush elephant (aka the Savannah elephant). While researchers have based this distinction on some genetic differences, it appears environment is the main factor.

As the name implies, the African elephant is native to the Sub-Saharan African bush or “veldt”. But these big and beautiful creatures can thrive in many different environments, from subtropical forests to dry grasslands.

It’s An Elephant’s Life

Not unlike human society, the family unit is essential to these massive mammals. Two or more “families” will travel the wilderness of the Madikwe Game Reserve and other nature reserves, led by a matriarch. These groups work together to find food and water, defend the group, and help to raise the young ‘uns. 

After young bulls in the group reach their 10th birthday, they’ll start to separate from these family units. They may go solo or head out in all-male groups. Older bulls help to navigate the matriarchal herd and help them stay one step ahead of potential predators.

Despite the apparent barrenness of the savannah grasslands, elephants enjoy a veritable smorgasbord of nutritious goodies. During the dry season, they get by on leaves and bark on top of their usual grass, creepers, and wild herbs. They also indulge in foliage and fruits like the marula. Once they’ve satisfied their sweet tooth, they turn to mineral-rich watering holes for their sodium intake.

Elephants will regularly visit the watering holes at Madikwe Safari Lodge, so guests will have ample opportunity to witness their fascinating behaviour while they quench their thirst and cool down in the waterholes. 

Threats To Our Elephants

The African elephant (both sub-species) has been regarded by an endangered species for many years – and for good reason! In the past 50 years, the population of African savannah elephant has decreased by a shocking 60%.

This is due to a few reasons, but the chief among them is the problem of poaching. The ivory trade is still too alive and well for many an animal-lover’s liking. Since this bloody industry preys mainly on elephant bulls, the ratio between males and females can easily be thrown out of balance and cause tremendous upheaval in the propagation of this species.

When poachers aren’t shrinking their population, changes in habitat are shrinking their world. Urban development infringes on their space, while corporations stake claims on land for purposes of farming, mining, and the impacts of those industries that make the environment unliveable to local animal life.

The Best Place To See This Star Of The Big Five

No holiday in South Africa is complete without at least a glimpse of the Big 5 on a safari cruise. However, not all game lodges are made equal – and you’ll want the best to be able to see the best of what the Madikwe Game Reserve has to offer. Madikwe Safari Lodge offers a unique, luxury experience of a world-class South African game reserve. Book your stay today!

 A female elephant watches over two elephant calves, one of which lays in the dry grass of the Savannah bush in the Madikwe Game Reserve.
A female elephant watches over two elephant calves in the Madikwe Game Reserve.