This mornings plan for the team was to collect hundreds of rocks from the dried up river bed to repair roads throughout the reserve. Once we had filled up a whole bucky (car with an open back) of rocks we drove to the damaged sites. Roads often form tyre channels during the wet seasons due to the water loosening the surrounding earth. So whilst the ground is dry, we fill the tyre channels with rocks so that vehicles can continue to use the roads safely without ruining their steering columns!
After one bucky load of rocks and countless numbers of trees removed from the roads we received a message from the radio that Elephants had been spotted crossing a region of open grassland not too far from our locations. We set off and made it to the open plains where we were treated to a fantastic sighting of not one, but two different breeding herds! With over 40 individuals counted and 2 big bulls located at the rear of them we speculated that their may even have been 3 sets of herds that happened to be moving towards the river at the same time. As photographed and attached to this blog entry, there were multiple calves within the herds, some no older than a year old. At a safe distance and minimal levels of noise, the herds passed straight by us down towards one of the few regions along the riverbed where water still remains.
The African Elephant is the largest land mammal on the planet and can weigh up to 6.5 tonnes and stand 4 metres from the ground. The male elephants, known as Bulls are either solitary or found within a bachelor herd of roughly 2 to 12 individuals. Female elephants, known as Cows form nursery herds. These contain a dominant female known as the Matriarch and any related cows or calves. Cows stay with their original natal herd, whereas males tend to move out when they become sexually mature from 14 years onwards.
Due to the drought, there are now limited sites on the reserve with large masses of water. This often results in a higher density of wildlife within the region and more frequent incredible encounters like this morning.