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 ...

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Mobile Camping Safari in Botswana (7 days)

One week of wild camping in Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve, arguably one of the most beautiful areas in the Okavango Delta...

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Elephant Kingdom: Chobe National Park Tour (3 days)

If seeing African elephants is on your travel bucket list, then the Chobe National Park should be right at the top...

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Victoria Falls and Chobe Encounter (5 days)

Encounter the smoke that thunders and explore the land of giants in the Chobe National Park...

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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...

 | 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...

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....

Campfire | Popular Botswana Safari Through the Delta (5 days)

Popular Botswana Safari Through the Delta (5 days)

Experience the remote wilderness of Botswana on a safari that offers you luxurious game viewing like no other....

Camp fire | Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

This three-in-one journey will show you the majestic Victoria Falls, the massive elephant bulls of Chobe and the natural wonder that is the Okavango Delta...

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