Botswana has the greatest number of elephants of any country in Africa.
That being said, we didn’t see an elephant at every turn, but when we did spot one or a few we had a field day with the camera.
No matter when or where, they were eating, always eating. According to our guide, they only digest about 40% of what they take in. The rest is left behind in mounds of excrement which becomes a food source for other bush dwellers.
When at a water hole, they have a gay time.
It’s impossible not to laugh as they lumber through the water spraying or cooling themselves.
Sometimes the water hole is shared with a hippo. You can be sure it and the elephant keep a wary eye on each other.
The babies, of course, are favorites. A baby elephant is born after the mother’s 22 month gestation period. A young one stays close to the mom until it is a young teenager during which time it is taught the ways of the herd. A female never leaves her family. The male when he is 12 or 13 separates to join older males from whom he learns discipline. Without instruction from adults, an elephant can wreak havoc as the balance of nature is upset.
Around the age of 25, a male’s interest in females emerges. He claims a space and marks it by urinating around the perimeter. The smell then attracts female attention. From that point, I guess nature takes its course.
Because of their numbers in Botswana, there is great controversy over how to deal with them. Some people feel the elephants need to be culled by again allowing hunting while others voice opposition to any destruction. I can see arguments for both sides, but if elephant numbers continue to increase, it is possible they could self destruct by depleting their food and water sources. I’m glad not to have to be involved in the solution.
For now, the only predator the elephant has to fear is the lion, and that would change if hunting is allowed. Then man would become the more harmful, a somewhat scary prospect.
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