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.


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Wild camping in Botswana

There are three campsites within Chobe National Park, all unfenced and overlooking beautiful wild areas while still having basic ablution facilities (flush toilets and warm showers). Ihaha (GPS: S 17 50.484′; E 24 52.748) is on the Chobe Riverfront and has ten spacious campsites. The large trees and expansive views over the river is what makes Ihaha a firm favorite for Botswana…

Botswana in April

The April/May shoulder season is an excellent time to visit Botswana. By April, rainfall has almost completely ceased across the country, although there may still be a few scattered showers. Everywhere is still green and most pans still hold some water, but what is available is getting scarcer, forcing both predators and prey to stay near. Average daytime temperatures are now about 30°C…

Visa requirements for Botswana

There are only a handful of countries whose residents require tourist visas to enter Botswana (this list can be found here), while every traveller must ensure that they hold valid, permanent passports with at least 3 blank pages remaining. Most tourists in Botswana come from the United States, second-most is the United Kingdom, and third is Germany. Visitors from these countries do not…

Big Five safari in Botswana

Botswana is arguably one of the world’s prime wildlife viewing destinations and while the Big Five needs no formal introductions, it is fitting to add that Botswana is one of the best countries to see these magnificent animals in one trip. Quick guide to spotting the Big Five in Botswana: Chobe National Park for the highest concentration of elephants. Savuti region for lion…

Bird watching in Botswana

Chobe’s impressive diversity of habitats make it home to the highest variety of bird species (468) in Botswana. A drive or boat cruise along the Chobe River will offer plenty of opportunities to see large raptors like Bateleur Eagles, migrant Wahlberg’s Eagles, white-backed or Lapped-faced Vultures, and of course the conspicuous African Fish Eagle. Fish Eagles dominate prime river…

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…

Popular Botswana Safaris

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

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Exploring these areas of the Southern African continent should on top of your bucket list...

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Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – to the diverse game viewing at the Chobe National Park and ending at the thundering Victoria Falls...

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Experience the paradise of Botswana and enjoy game viewing as well as exciting activities in Zambia ...

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Explore two of Africa's most popular World Heritage Sites in under a week...

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Explore the famous reserve that offers exceptional game viewing and sight the elusive Sitatunga antelope in the Okavango ...

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