Elephant Interaction


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Africa » South Africa » Mpumalanga » Marloth Park
July 9th 2014
Published: June 22nd 2017
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Birthday cakeBirthday cakeBirthday cake

Verra nice too!
Geo: -25.3406, 31.7709

Another superb dinner last night. Francois is the representative of the family that owns the lodge and he is very warm and hospitable. His mum Joyce baked a lovely chocolate cake for Rob's birthday and we all toasted and sang Happy Birthday (including in Africaans). Gerard, the 74 year-old patriarch is very involved in developing a new lodge a few hours away in Mozambique. He loves to talk about the country and the people, in a paternalistic and caring way. Joyce made sure that her son Etienne sang for us at dinner. He is a professional opera singer and also a very good chef.

Andy and Ela are staying only four days and they are off again today for another full day safari into Kruger. We are going to an elephant encounter at Kwa Madwala private game reserve this afternoon and have a relaxed schedule.

Umpteen varieties of biltong are for sale in the local shops. Didn't think much of ostrich, but the impala biltong was quite good.

The elephant encounter was great. A 22 year old male and a 26 year old female were brought out of the bush for the visit. Their handler Amos explained what they ate, how big
Dinner tableDinner tableDinner table

Four course fine dining at the lodge. Had to modify my intake last night as the previous night I was too full!
they'd grow (full size at age 35-40, the male would double in weight and add about a metre in height), their temperaments, etc. African elephants are trained with ask and reward, and Amos was disparaging of the training of Asian elephants, which apparently is about authority and submission.

We fed them pellets and their breath was warm and not stinky. They showed us their teeth that are replaced six times in their life. Then unless they are tame and hand fed, they will die from starvation, usually about 65 years old.


Additional photos below
Photos: 8, Displayed: 8


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Male elephantMale elephant
Male elephant

The males are harder to train as it is more difficult to gain their trust. While they are young, this Reserve chooses to feed them hormones to curb their testosterone and stop them coming into "must". When they are mature, they manage their annual 3 month "must" period better. Odd, I can't think of another animal where the males also come into "heat".
Female elephantFemale elephant
Female elephant

We were told that elephants have a phenomenal sense of smell - 14 times better than a dog's! With their poor eyesight they cannot see the little feed pellets on the ground, but they sniff them out and dexterously pick them up. Apparently they are able to pick up very small objects, like a pin, with their trunk!
Open wide!Open wide!
Open wide!

There are six sets of teeth that emerge through an elephant's life. After that they can't eat and will die.
The better to hear you with...The better to hear you with...
The better to hear you with...

Their hearing is also very acute. The ear canal is visible. Without thinking, I had assumed this was behind the ear.
Game Reserve dwellingsGame Reserve dwellings
Game Reserve dwellings

The Kwa Madwala reserve looks very swish and they have these themed accommodation buildings dotted around the place.
Kwa Madwala loungeKwa Madwala lounge
Kwa Madwala lounge

This game reserve was about 15,000 ha and included some hilly country with rocky outcrops (Kopje). There was a panoramic view from this lounge/bar.


9th July 2014

We want photos! We want photos!
9th July 2014

Verra nice indeed. Gooseberry balls? Or something sweet and wicked. Lovely snap.
9th July 2014

Congrats on another birthday. Are the 3 candles code for 53?
11th July 2014

Aw how fabulous, and my favourite elephants didn't disappoint, they are just beautiful and you certainly got up close and personal. Was going to ask what the food is like, imagine variety of spices, the next photo of the salad meat dish loo
ks scrumptious. How many photos have you of the elephants? Some worth framing?
13th July 2014

Plenty of elephant photos but nothing really great. We mainly saw small herds, the large, single males were not evident.
13th July 2014

Good close up. Shame they have to have their normal cycles altered, but I do appreciate Males in their season can be truly out of control.
22nd July 2014

Wow great pics Robyn and Sel. You guys look really happy but freeeezing cold! You've all got your coats on!
22nd July 2014

And blankets around our legs!

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