Elephants tend to move around in family groups led by a matriarch. These elephants in such a group were quenching their thirst at Ghwarrie Pan in the Addo Elephant National Park.
Male offspring are ousted from these closely-knit family groups once they reach the age of about twelve and they start to show a more than brotherly interest in the females. This must be a difficult period for these young bulls until they team up with other bulls or attach themselves to an older bull. This young bull had followed the family group pictured above from a discreet distance. It refrained from joining them, but constantly smelled the ground they had covered.
It waited patiently until the family group had crossed to the other side of the water before moving to where they had been drinking. It was only once his former family group began walking towards the lip of the hill that he finally began to drink from their last position at the dam.
Of course it is always exciting to get close to elephants in this park, where you often don’t really need a fancy camera to get pictures such as this:
Or this one:
Hapoor waterhole is a marvellous place to spend time watching groups of elephants greeting each other, young ones playing with each other, or simply to observe the actions of these majestic animals.
One shouldn’t become too complacent about the apparent gentleness or the tolerance the Addo elephants seem to have for tourists and their vehicles. It is best to maintain a healthy respect for them, to give way to them, and to allow them the space the need to move.