The Elephants of Botswana

A far cry from the photographic safari-enthusiasts that visit Chobe National Park now, the park was once the haunt of large-scale ivory hunters. It’s hard to imagine that by the second half of the 19th century ivory hunting was so rife that elephants were almost extinct in the Chobe area. Today, “thlou” (the local Setswana term for elephant) are safe in Chobe National Park and during dry season make up the largest density of elephant in the world (60 000 – 70 000) a number that has continued to rise in recent years due to poaching pressure in Botswana’s neighboring counties. elephant in the chobe national park wildlife safari

In essence, Botswana has become a safehouse for an increasing number of Southern Africa’s refugee elephants who no longer feel protected traversing through the borders of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Zambia. Despite this, research by Elephants without Borders has shown that the elephants of northern Botswana still have the largest home ranges (24,828km2) recorded for African elephants and herds continue to move between western Zimbabwe, the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, southeast Angola and southwest Zambia. However, Botswana’s elephant range has grown by 53% in the past 20 years and scientists worry about how this will affect the safety and livelihoods of local people living on the outskirts of wildlife areas. Initiatives like the Elephant and Bee Project that are building beehive fences to naturally repel elephants from raiding local farmer’s crops, are invaluable in protecting both humans and elephants.

Elephant are majestic creatures

As the largest terrestrial animal on earth, elephants eat up to 300kg of food a day and play a fundamental role in shaping their environment. The large herds of Chobe have put enormous pressure on the riverine forests lining the banks of the river, and it is common to see fallen tree trunks and battered broken branches tossed about the ground. This would be devastating if it weren’t for the arrival of the summer rains when the elephants disperse, allowing the land much-needed time to recover. Elephant’s destructive habits have equally positive effects and are responsible for creating hideaways for smaller creatures and helping browsers, like kudu and bushbuck, to reach nutritious leaves. Predators like lions and leopards often choose to hide their cubs in the safety of fallen logs, and elephant’s well-worn paths through the bush are used by many species. During drought, elephant’s dig for water in dry pans, helping to form waterholes that other animals can drink from.

Elephant herds are plentiful in Botswana

While Chobe’s waterfront is the place to see large family herds, Savute is known as the domain of the large elephant bull. These lonely tusked giants float over the horizon or swagger around the dusty peripheries of small waterholes, drinking and moving off again. Chobe really is a “Land of Giants”, an ultimate destination for elephant-lovers.


Popular Botswana Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Highlights of Northern Botswana (8 days)

Highlights of Northern Botswana (8 days)

Experience two of Botswana's best safari destinations; the Savute region and Okavango Delta ...

Wildlife  | Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)

Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)

Explore Botswana's Moremi and Selinda reserves on foot, in a safari vehicle or a mokoro for unforgettable wildlife encounters with big game and rare birds...

 | Best of Botswana and South Africa (11 days)

Best of Botswana and South Africa (11 days)

Experience the best of two of southern Africa's gems ...

Family | Passage Through Southern Africa in a Luxury Train (10 days)

Passage Through Southern Africa in a Luxury Train (10 days)

Weave your way through a safari medley that introduces you to the mighty Victoria Falls, a remote slice of the Okavango Delta and the African gems in between....

 | Camping in Moremi Game Reserve (5 days)

Camping in Moremi Game Reserve (5 days)

Watch the Okavango Delta come alive with the sounds of bird calls, the roar of lions in one of the most beautiful reserves in Botswana...

 | Classic Botswana Family Safari (9 days)

Classic Botswana Family Safari (9 days)

Connect as a family while tracking wildlife and incredible landscapes through some of the most remote stretches of Botswana....

 | Botswana Green Season Safari (7 days)

Botswana Green Season Safari (7 days)

Experience three of Botswana's highlights – the Central Kalahari, Okavango Delta and Kwando Linyanti – wilderness areas that take you from arid desert to lush wetlands...

Sunset Ride | Horse Riding Safari on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (6 Days)

Horse Riding Safari on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (6 Days)

Saddle-up for a horseback riding adventure through the semi-arid thirstland of the Kalahari....

 | Nature, Romance and Exclusivity - A Complete African Honeymoon (14 days)

Nature, Romance and Exclusivity - A Complete African Honeymoon (14 days)

This exclusive African honeymoon through East and Southern Africa is the perfect way to celebrate the start of your new journey together...

Dhow at andBeyond Benguerra Island | Luxury Land and Sea Safari in Botswana and Mozambique (10 days)

Luxury Land and Sea Safari in Botswana and Mozambique (10 days)

Experience the Okavango Delta and the tropical Indian Ocean island of Benguerra for the best of both the bush and the beach...

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