Is there ever too many elephants ?

Day 288, Thursday 18 October 2012 – Chobe, Botswana

We had a morning game drive today so I was up staggering blindly around at 5:10 getting organised before we all were loaded onto special game vehicles at the hotel office. Chobe National Park is eleven thousand square kilometres and is next to the Chobe River.

The game drive was interesting, our vehicle did not get to see the leopard that was seen by the other vehicle and I was in the middle which makes photography hard, but it was my turn and I am taller than the others. It was a slow start along the river bank, mostly seeing birds.

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I am not sure who is being braver here, the Malibu stork or the small crocodile.

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We did see lots of impala

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An eventually some elephants, there are a lot of elephants in the park and a massive amount of elephant damage everywhere.

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We watched this large troop of baboons for a while, there were quite a few babies around and they are very cute.

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We were then taken to the site of a dead elephant – a feeding ground for dozens of vultures and Malibu storks. We were quite a long way of and it was hard for me to get decent shots from the middle of the truck, so I was a little disappointed with the results, but they have captured the moment, I love the dead tree and the final insult to the poor elephant was all the bird pooh on it.

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We came across a couple of lethargic lions, they didn’t even acknowledge our presence.

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Before stopping to watch a small family group of elephants playing in the bush, this baby must have been very young as it was spending quite some time trying to suckle, it was quite cool to watch.

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As we left we spotted a couple of female kudu, with the dull colouring and the pale stripes they are quite hard to spot, especially against a small slope.

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After the game drive we had a few hours to kill in the campsite before going on a game cruise on the river. I was on dishes and as we had a massive brunch prepared while we out in the morning there was a load of dishes to be done, by the time these were done and I had washing on the line the afternoon was half gone. I took a quick dip in the pool and spent some time in the shade writing before heading to the bar for a cocktail before the cruise got under way at 4:00. After a bit of effort I found the lawn mower asleep under a bush.


The boat was fairly spacious, it had seats we could move around and roof access, so plenty of space to see animals and take photos. We saw a load of hippo, both in and out of the water.

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A nice male elephant.

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Herds of impala on the riverbank.

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A great sighting, but bad pictures of a couple of monitor lizards eating a catfish.

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A cape buffalo in a bog ! loved this one – though I am yet to get a good full body buffalo shot.

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On the river banks we saw the largest herd of elephant I have ever seen, I counted over thirty elephants in a couple of groups, very cool.

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Our guide for the cruise spotted another, smaller herd of elephants walking on one of the many small islands in the river, they walking towards the edge and he knew they were going to cross to the mainland. We motored upstream to get closer to watch this event, even the guide was excited, it is not something you see often – and he had his camera out too.

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I loved the little trunks sticking out of the water.

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It was a very cool thing to see, there were a number of crocs lurking in the water, but the herd made it through unscathed. WOW.

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After that we motored back to the campsite, under a fairly cool sunset. It was a great trip, definitely another African highlight.

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The evening was similar to the one before except we pooled all the remaining Botswanan currency – the pula and bought beer in the bar – again! Tomorrow is Zambia.

Apparently yes, there are too many elephants, but there is no political will to cull them at this stage. It is a very tricky situation.

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.

12 thoughts on “Is there ever too many elephants ?”

    1. Thanks James! It is certainly an awesome experience. Only two more nights left before the trip to Nairobi is over. Hopefully I will get some time to get some blogs out before I leave on the gorillas trip on the 18th!

    1. Thanks 🙂

      I visited when the post was written 🙂 so October. Pretty much the end of the tourist season in southern parts of Africa. A good time to visit.

      1. It seems like a good time to visit in regards to seeing lots of wildlife, too!!! (I’m thinking of Africa for my next trip and debating the time of year to go) I want to see as much of the Big 5 as I can!

      2. I managed to see all of the big five eventually, though it took a few parks to see them. You guys sound a bit like me and want to travel independently and that is very do-able in southern Africa. Easy to hire a vehicle and drive, not so sure about public transport though!

        having said that i can highly recommend the truck tour thing. I used Africa in Focus and thought they were great, slightly older group which appealed to me. if you did a Cape Town to Livingston trip you would see the big 5 for sure… It is a great trip up through Namibia and Botswana to Zambia. probably my favourite countries.

      3. Cape Town to Livingstone looks amazing! I’ve seen a trip that G Adventures offers and it’s exactly that. I have a big thing for elephants… seems like I would get my fair share on a trip like that, just like you say! I’ve also been looking at going in October as well.

      4. Yep, you will definitely see loads of elephants on that trip! They are wonderful animals, especially interacting with each other and up close. There re a bunch of operators doing tours, check them all out closely, especially what they do and do not include in their fees. Some of the cheap ones end up being more costly than you think when you add in the things that are not included.

        Experience of a lifetime though !

      5. Yes! I noticed that, thank you! The less costly tours are the ones that don’t include the country local fees or park entrance fees whereas the others (like G Adventures) do! I can’t wait! How close could you get up to the elephants?

      6. Fairly close at times, I am guessing 20 metres at one point.

        If you have a DSLR camera take the longest lens you can get your hands on and if you have the money buy an extender as well – if your lenses will accept one, not all will. Then you get even closer 🙂

      7. I think it would make a huge difference to your photos in the game parks. Expect most animals to be at least 50 metres away, if not more, so you need a decent zoom…

        I am slightly biased though as I own one, but I dont lug mine around when I back pack though – too lazy 🙂

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