Elephant update – 7 September 2012

Elephant family group

Elephant family group

Happy Spring Day, (September 1st)! The month of September is off to beautiful start, and spring is definitely in the air. With longer days and light availability seasonal changes have begun to unfold. Even without precipitation the leaves are greening, blossoms are emerging, and the wildlife is taking notice.

While on our specialised elephant research drive, The Ivory Drive, this week guests were delighted to observe many species in action. The White-fronted Bee Eaters were busy catching insects as we passed en route to an elephant family group.

White Fronted Bee Eaters

White Fronted Bee Eaters

The group found during the Ivory Drive was observed foraging small leaves and twigs of Umbrella thorn.  Most of the females in the group had only one tusk or were tuskless. The photo below shows a young female calf with one tusk and her mother, the matriarch of the group. Guests were interested to learn about the affects of hunting large tusk elephants to increase the prevalence of the genetically linked trait carried in females for tuskless-ness.

Elephant cow and calf

Elephant cow and calf

This family group also demonstrated a physical condition found in herbivores across the landscape. The drought has resulted in less nutritious browse which is showing some elephant’s features more. The back and pelvis are more visible in members of this family group.

The rains will bring a respite from the dry climate of the past months

The recent rains will bring a respite from the lack of foraging available for the past months

Fortunately for these herbivores the first week of September has also brought with it the first rain event since late December/early January. I look forward to sharing the next installment when we will see how this rain may affect elephant life in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve.

Hope to see you here soon in the Land of Giants.

Jena Casey

Mashatu Elephant Research Project

*We are pleased to announce the return of our well-received Ivory Drives – game drives with a special focus on elephant conservation research, that provide guests with an opportunity to tour parts of Northern Tuli Game Reserve while spending time in close proximity to wild elephants in their natural habitat. The lead elephant ecology researcher on site guides the tour, offering information on recent elephant activity, sociability, ecology and research techniques; as well as local history in the context of elephant conservation dynamics related to southern Africa and the greater continent.



One Response to “ “Elephant update – 7 September 2012”

  1. Nancy Lewis says:

    glad to hear there has been some relief. I have been spoiled by the number of elephants and their comfort around vehicles with humans. No where else that I have been have I been so close to elephants for such extended periods of time.

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