The Elephants of Chobe National Park, Botswana
Chobe National Park, where we spent six days at two camps, has the highest elephant density in the world and more than
100,000 elephants. We were fortunate to arrive at the end of the dry season, and since our camps were at the water holes
and the Chobe River, we had elephants arriving continuously. In addition to drinking, the elephants also bathed themselves in
water and mud as protection from the heat, sun, and insects.
One moment, there would be nothing on the horizon. The next moment, a parade of big elephants would emerge from the
bush. Below, four male elephants coming to the water hole. It is funny to watch them arrive at a water hole or river. Once they
see the water, their gait picks up dramatically.
At Savute Safari Lodge in the Chobe, there were
three man made water holes with pumps. During
the day time, mostly males arrived. The females
and young came mostly at night. The biggest and
strongest male always got to drink and bathe first.
From time to time there were skirmishes while two
elephants determined which one got to go first.
About 2,200 elephants relied on these water
holes. They need a drink about every three days,
so we usually had at least a couple dozen
elephants at a time at Savute.
The elephants used to migrate long distances.
However, because of farming and borders
between countries, the migration routes are
greatly restricted and these man made water holes
have been developed as an alternative.
Below, males at one of the watering holes at
Savute Lodge. Note dead elephant in the
background. The elephant was killed by lions. This
is the only place in the world where lions have
mastered the art of regularly killing elephants for
food--about once every three weeks.
Note the vultures in the background waiting for the lions to finish their elephant dinner and leave leftovers. The elephant had
been dead for four days, but any vulture bold enough to come down would immediately come under attack by a lion sleeping in
a nearby bush.
Left, a single male elephant on the way
to the water hole.
Below, a group of elephants coming
back from a drink and bath at the