Wildlife

19 South African National Parks for Your Bucket List (Part 2)

19 South African National Parks for Your Bucket List (Part 2)

South Africa is a nation blessed with a rich tapestry of natural wonders, and its 19 national parks stand as a testament to this diverse beauty. From the untamed bushveld and rugged mountains to pristine coastlines and lush forests, each park offers a unique experience. In this blog, we’ll take you on a journey through the South African National Parks bucket list, highlighting must-see attractions and activities within each park.

If you missed part one of this two-part blog series, click here to read all about the parks found in Limpopo, the Free State and Eastern Cape provinces. Don’t worry – we will keep your spot here until you return.

Western Cape

Agulhas National Park

Agulhas National Park, situated at the southern tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, boasts diverse flora and significant archaeological sites. Coastal plains harbour ecological wonders, shipwrecks, and ancient settlements, while wetlands provide habitat for endangered species like the Cape plantana and micro frog.

Bontebok National Park

Bontebok National Park, despite being South Africa’s smallest, hosts a high concentration of rare birdlife, fynbos species, and animals. Located at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, it safeguards indigenous plant life and offers recreational activities along the Breede River.

Garden Route National Park

Garden Route National Park, situated along the Western and Eastern Cape coastlines, showcases stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and diverse attractions like Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Visitors can enjoy water sports, hiking, and culinary experiences amidst breath-taking natural scenery.

Karoo National Park

Karoo National Park features a variety of birds and mammals, including Black Rhino and Buffalo. With a rich fossil history and cultural significance dating back to the San and Khoi Khoi people, it offers diverse wildlife viewing opportunities.

Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain National Park encompasses iconic landmarks like Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope, offering a blend of urban and natural landscapes. Visitors can explore beaches, forests, and historic sites while admiring rare plants and wildlife, including endemic bird species and penguins.

West Coast National Park

West Coast National Park, just outside Cape Town, is renowned for its rugged beauty and abundant marine life. Activities like snorkelling and whale watching complement sightings of mountain zebras and bonteboks amidst vibrant wildflowers from August to September.

Table Mountain National Park

Northern Cape

Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, straddling South Africa and Namibia, boasts diverse desert flora and fauna adapted to its harsh environment. On the Namibian side, visitors can marvel at the Fish River Canyon, the second-largest canyon globally and Africa’s largest, a top tourist spot after Etosha National Park.

Augrabies Falls National Park

The Augrabies Falls National Park, spanning 820 km², derives its name ‘Aukoerebis’ from the Khoi people, meaning the place of the Great Noise, as the Orange River cascades down 60 meters in a stunning waterfall. This arid area boasts a gorge beneath the falls, averaging 240 metres in depth and stretching 18 kilometres, showcasing remarkable erosion into granite. The landscape showcases intriguing geological formations and distinctive flora, including the quiver tree. In addition to observing the falls, visitors can partake in activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and game drives.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a vast wildlife reserve spanning South Africa and Botswana, formed by merging Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Gemsbok National Park. It hosts diverse wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, and over 200 bird species, making it a significant lion conservation area since 2005.

Mokala National Park

Mokala National Park, established on June 19, 2007, in the Plooysburg area southwest of Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa, spans 26 485 hectares. Named after the camel thorn tree, it aims to conserve endangered species such as Cape buffalo, black rhino, and roan antelope, alongside other wildlife like white and black rhino, nyala, giraffe, and bat-eared fox, offering visitors abundant opportunities for close-up wildlife encounters.

Namaqua National Park

Namaqua National Park is renowned for its breath-taking array of indigenous flora each spring, attracting visitors for this singular reason. With approximately 3 500 species, including unique bulb flora, it holds the richest diversity of succulent plants globally. The park is also home to numerous endemic amphibians, reptiles, and mammal species like klipspringer, aardvark, baboon, and leopard, while its birdlife mirrors that of arid western regions.

Tankwa Karoo National Park

The Tankwa Karoo National Park, situated just 250 kilometres from Cape Town, offers vast open space and tranquillity, making it perfect for solitude seekers. Activities include hiking, stargazing, and game viewing, with diverse vegetation and a rich variety of succulent Karoo plants. Bird watchers can spot special species like the burchell’s courser and the Namaqua sandgrouse, while mammal sightings include klipspringer, springbok, and red hartebeest. Carnivores like the yellow mongoose and suricate are commonly seen, with a chance of spotting the bat-eared fox on cooler days.

Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

CHAT WITH US

Have you visited any of the above places? Share your adventures with us on our Facebook Page or tag us on Instagram.

Click on any of the links below to learn more about your ‘Jewel of the Kruger’:

Accommodation | Experience | Contact Us

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Environmental Conservation, Wildlife, 0 comments
19 South African National Parks for Your Bucket List (Part 1)

19 South African National Parks for Your Bucket List (Part 1)

South Africa is a nation blessed with a rich tapestry of natural wonders, and its 19 national parks stand as a testament to this diverse beauty. From the untamed bushveld and rugged mountains to pristine coastlines and lush forests, each park offers a unique experience. In this blog, we’ll take you on a journey through the South African National Parks bucket list, highlighting must-see attractions and activities within each park.

Limpopo

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park, a must-visit on any South African national parks list, is the ultimate safari destination, boasting the Big Five and a plethora of other species across its vast 20 000 square kilometres. Ngwenya Lodge, located on the park’s southern border, offers guests prime wildlife viewing without leaving the resort.

Mapungubwe National Park

Mapungubwe National Park offers a blend of history, wildlife, and scenic beauty. Positioned at the meeting of two rivers and three countries, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site with attractions like The Lost City of Mapungubwe and diverse wildlife including elephants and leopards.

Marakele National Park

Marakele National Park, nestled in the Waterberg Mountains of Limpopo, provides sanctuary to a rich array of wildlife and plants. Visitors can enjoy game drives amidst stunning landscapes, birdwatching, and exploring iron-age sites, with highlights including the world’s largest colony of Cape vultures and sightings of the Big Five.

Golden Rhinoceros of Mapungubwe

Free State

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Golden Gate Highlands National Park, located in the Maluti Mountains, offers stunning wildlife and lush vegetation. Located in the north-eastern Free State of South Africa, it’s renowned for its golden sandstone cliffs, vibrant scenery, and diverse accommodations. The park, established in 1963 to preserve ancient Bushmen shelters, features well-preserved cave paintings and rare flora like arum lilies and red-hot pokers. It’s a sanctuary for endangered species like the bearded vulture and bald ibis, with a rich diversity of mammals and over 140 bird species, making it a must-visit destination in the Free State.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Eastern Cape

Addo Elephant National Park

The Addo Elephant National Park covers an area of 686 000 hectares, comprising 164 000 hectares of land and a marine reserve spanning 120 000 hectares. It stands as the third-largest national park in South Africa and holds the distinction of being the only park globally that accommodates not just the Big 5, but also Africa’s “Big 7,” including elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, buffaloes, leopards, whales, and great white sharks.

Camdeboo National Park

Camdeboo National Park offers game viewing, birding, hiking, and stargazing, notably at the Valley of Desolation. With around 250 bird species, it’s a go-to for birders, featuring African goshawks, rock kestrels, and verreaux’s eagles. Wildlife like buffalo and black wildebeest roam the plains, with 4×4 trails like Koedoeskloof and Driekoppe to explore, and the Nqweba Dam for water activities.

Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park, near Cradock, protects Cape mountain zebras and other wildlife in a variety of biomes. It offers sightings of buffalo, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, and diverse birdlife, with predators like hyenas, lions, and cheetahs introduced in recent years, offering guided tracking tours for visitors.

Addo Elephant National Park

CHAT WITH US

Have you visited any of the above places? Share your adventures with us on our Facebook Page or tag us on Instagram.

Click on any of the links below to learn more about your ‘Jewel of the Kruger’:

Accommodation | Experience | Contact Us

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Environmental Conservation, Wildlife, 0 comments
Ngwenya Lodge Gives a Hoot

Ngwenya Lodge Gives a Hoot

We love that we so often get to fall asleep to the sound of owls hooting, here at Ngwenya Lodge. This time, however, the hooting was a little too close to home…

Barn Owl found in a unit at Ngwenya Lodge

This beautiful little guy, a Barn Owl, somehow found his way into one of the units, where he was discovered by our housekeeping team. We’re not sure just ‘hoo’ was more surprised…

The housekeeping team enlisted the help of the maintenance team, who carefully and calmly, manoeuvred him into a corner where they could safely gather him up. They then duly removed him back to the great outdoors and left him in the fork of a large branch, in a dense, shady tree away from any populated areas.

Barn Owl in the bush

Interestingly enough, Barn Owls don’t actually hoot! They make a harsh, eerie-sounding shriek. This, combined with their somewhat spooky appearance, especially in flight, and their fondness for abandoned buildings, is what has led to the nickname ‘ghost owl’.

Barn owls are one of the most widely spread species of birds and are the most widely distributed owl in the world. Western Barn Owl breeding pairs are monogamous and mate for life. They are nocturnal predators, usually setting off to hunt just after sunset and returning to roost just before sunrise. The owl’s facial disk helps to channel sound to its ears, which are located on either side of the face, and they can zone in on sounds with extreme accuracy. Another remarkable adaptation is their silent flight, thanks to specialised feathers that muffle the sound of their wingbeats. This silent flight enables them to surprise their prey, making them highly efficient hunters.

Barn Owl hunting at night

In addition to the threat of loss of habitat which owls face, through deforestation and land conservation for agriculture, owls are at risk from pesticides and rodenticides, as these chemicals can accumulate in their prey and affect their reproductive success; or often kill the owls outright through secondary poisoning. Unfortunately, over the course of time, Western Barn Owls have been linked to unfounded beliefs in a tragic manner. They are believed to represent death and are seen as bearers of misfortune for humans, often associated with practices like witchcraft. It is widely believed that if a Western Barn Owl is spotted resting on a house’s roof, a family member will die the next day. These baseless superstitions and the subsequent bias against Western Barn Owls have resulted in their senseless and cruel killing by some humans.

The African Scops-Owl is the smallest Southern African owl, and is smaller than a dove

Fortunately, more enlightened folk hold these magnificent birds in high regard and understand and appreciate their role in the ecosystem.

Rats and mice are notorious for destroying crops and can cause ill health to humans through the zoonotic diseases they carry. As predators of rats and mice in both rural and suburban areas, Western Barn Owls have an important role to play.

Owls play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of the Greater Kruger Park Lodge ecosystem. As top predators, they help regulate populations of small mammals and birds, preventing unchecked growth and potential imbalances. By controlling rodent populations, owls indirectly contribute to the health of the region’s vegetation, as excessive plant consumption by rodents can disrupt the ecosystem extensively.

Pel’s Fishing Owl, another local resident considered one of the Kruger birds Big 6

We wish you many happy hoot spots on your next visit to Ngwenya Lodge, but hopefully not in the lounge!

Posted by WSC_Dev in Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, Ngwenya Sightings, Wildlife, 0 comments
Ngwenya Wildlife Photography Competition

Ngwenya Wildlife Photography Competition

Ngwenya Lodge is full of awe-inspiring pulchritude that provides an extra frisson of grandeur to every guest that drives past our welcome wall into their home-away-from home.  And the greatest source of all this magnificence is the abundant wildlife that occurs on the boundary of our unbeaten location. Being situated on the southern boundary of one of the biggest and best-known wildlife sanctuaries in the world – the Kruger National Park – has provided our guests with an unmatched game-viewing and birding experience without even having to leave the Resort gates, so guests never miss an opportunity to capture and share in these special game-viewing experiences.

We have seen all of your photos of herds of elephants with their calves in tow, crocodiles sunning themselves down along the riverbanks and the eagle dominating the sky with its majestic wingspan, and we thought we’d just have a bit of fun with all of you and host a photo competition on our Facebook page where you get to share your best and favourite wildlife photos with us for a chance of being featured as our Facebook cover photo for an entire month!

All you need to do is submit your favourite top-quality high-resolution photographic masterpieces to us at myholiday@ngwenya.co.za or via WeTransfer and we’ll choose the best ones to feature on our page for every month in 2023! Who doesn’t love bragging rights?

Competition Rules:

  1. Poor quality photos and videos will be disqualified.

Take note:

– Images submitted must be in high-resolution only.

– Images submitted must be above 1MB in size; any images below that size will not be accepted.

– Images and videos submitted which are pixellated or blurry will not be accepted.

– Images and videos submitted via Facebook or Instagram will not be considered. Please email or WeTransfer all submissions.

  1. Imagery submitted should only reflect wildlife and holidays at Ngwenya Lodge and the Kruger National Park; no photos of other holidays or at other game and wildlife facilities will be accepted.
  2. By entering this competition, the participant warrants that the submissions do not violate any copyright, nor the rights of any third person.
  3. By entering this competition, the participant agrees to give Ngwenya Lodge, as well as all affiliate companies, unrestricted access to make use of the submissions for marketing purposes, even if they are not the winning entries.
  4. Ngwenya Lodge reserves the right to cancel this competition at any time, if deemed necessary.
  5. The judges’ decision is final.

Sounds pretty simple, right? So start scrolling through your camera rolls and show us your best captures. We can’t wait to see them:

myholiday@ngwenya.co.za | WeTransfer

Posted by WSC_Dev in Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, Ngwenya Sightings, Wildlife
Hear the Kruger Call

Hear the Kruger Call

Hear the Kruger call: the shrill cry of a fish eagle gliding over the floodplains; the rumbling sound of a lion as dusk settles in; the thundering hooves of a buffalo herd fleeing into the undergrowth from a predator. These are all nature’s melodies. These are all sounds that resonate in our souls, and that which we know to be synonymous with an authentic bushveld experience. But, there is so much more to the songs and calls of the wild than this. From communication to foraging, wildlife have evolved their own languages into a range of patterns and frequencies across the spectrum of species (many of which humans do not yet fully understand).

Ngwenya delves into the intricacies of wildlife communication:

Hyena

Hyenas are highly intellectual creatures that operate in large clans. These clans have social structure and a range of rules regarding their territory, hierarchy, the hunt and protection. Naturally, this means they require complex communication to uphold their system; one of the widest ranges in communication found in mammals, as a matter-of-fact. The most well-known of the hyena’s sounds is probably the hoot-laugh and giggling, which has dubbed the species with the name “laughing hyena”. While humans associate loud laughter with joy and relaxation, to hyena’s it actually signals distress and tension. The other most prominent call is the whoop which is a loud call that ranges in pitch. The whoop is used to communicate when out of visual range and can actually distinguish hyenas from one another. It is believed that these calls can signal the sex, age and status of the hyena to others. Scientists continue to study the vocalisations of hyenas, with growling being the most obscure. Hyenas are believed to use growling and body language in different combinations to communicate different meaning, the intricacies of which are still being uncovered.

Coucal

The coucal is one of 27 species of the genus Centropus, though you may be more familiar with the term cuckoo. Many of these medium-to-large birds are named for the sounds they make, or the birdsong they imitate. The two species most prominently found in the Kruger National Park are the Burchell’s Coucal and the Black Coucal. Coucal’s are widely known for the gurgling sound that accompanies their song, which many associate with a babbling brook. In fact, their local name in Kenya translates to “The Water Bottle Bird”. Their birdsong not only imitates water but has been closely studied and revealed to be linked to periods of downpour. Coucal’s will often sing before or after rain, when humidity is at an all-time high. Coucals, and birds in general, are able to produce their melodies due to an organ that only they possess: the syrinx. This vocal organ is found at the base of the trachea and produces sound when air is forced through it. The membranes of the syrinx walls vibrate when this happens; causing an oscillating effect that produces intricate birdsong.

Elephant

Elephants are known to have some of the most complex language systems amongst all wildlife. They are able to produce a range of idiosyncratic sounds, ranging from vibrations and rumbling to barks and snorts. Elephants mostly communicate using a low rumble which is produced at such a low frequency that it is seldom heard by human ears. The low rumble can be heard or felt as vibrations, by other elephants, up-to 10km away! This form of communication travels as vibrations with sound pressures reaching 117 decibels. The receptors of an elephants’ feet, known as Pacinian corpuscles, are highly sensitive and share a direct link to the somatosensory cortex of the brain, which is responsible for processing touch. The PC receptors are localised around the edges of the foot; elephants have been documented pressing their feet more firmly onto the ground to enlarge the surface area of contact so that they can hear better!

While this explains how elephants can hear one another, how exactly do they vocalise? Until recent studies conducted by the University of Vienna, scientists weren’t sure if elephant’s communicated through electrical impulses, known as AMC or active muscular contraction, or by the MEAD or myoelastic-aerodynamic method. Domestic cats use AMC to purr, while humans communicate via the MEAD method. While it is difficult to test for AMC, as it requires muscle contractions produced by brain signals, Christian Herbst at UV was able to test MEAD. His team obtained a deceased elephant’s larynx, which they connected to an airflow system. In this way, they could move air over the vocal cords of the larynx, which in turn mimicked the low rumblings and thus put the debate to rest on how elephants vocalise.

This is just three species’ ways of communicating and vocalising, but every wild animal has its own language to communicate with one another, ward off danger or to simply add a sweet song to the chorus of the bush. Wildlife also make use of a number of tools to effectively communicate that surpass sound, and these intricacies will continue to interest scholars and enthusiasts alike. All we have to do is pause and listen to the sounds of the Kruger.

Posted by WSC_Dev in Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, Ngwenya Sightings, Wildlife
Into The Biome

Into The Biome

Ngwenya Lodge sits comfortably along the winding Crocodile River on the South-Eastern boundary of the Kruger National Park. Being located at prime river-frontage, a major water source for Kruger wildlife makes Ngwenya well-positioned for year-round game-viewing. However, exploring the Kruger National Park on a self-drive or guided tour make for some incredible sightings; even more so when we delve into the biome of the Park and use it to our advantage for spectacular wildlife finds.

The Kruger National Park is classified as a majority Savanna biome.  This biome is characterised by grass-dominant ground coverage and woody vegetation as its upper layer; it also makes up approximately a third of South Africa’s overall biome. The upper layer of woody plants and trees almost never dominates the ground cover; this is attributed to the annual rainfall being relatively low in the area, recorded by 15 rainfall stations throughout the Kruger daily with a mean of 500mm each year. The region experiences its rainy season during the summer months; December, January and February with earth-shattering thunderstorms which are a sight to behold and often studied by international and national students. Wild grasses and shrubs make up the majority of the ground cover and provide an ample grazing ground for a range of antelope, while Acacia trees can be spotted in clusters or alone, and provide an excellent food source for larger game such as giraffe and elephant.

The Kruger National Park can be broken down into eight overlapping ecosystems, all forming a part of the greater Savanna biome, with the Central Grasslands providing the best example of the Savanna. The Northern Sandlands, Mopaneveld and Lebombo ecosystems fall further away from Ngwenya Lodge, but all make for interesting and unique game-viewing drives, should visitors wish to travel further into the Park.

Closer to home however, lies a multitude of ecosystems, each overlapping the next and providing a home to varied species, these are the; Riverine Bush, Thorn Thickets to the East, South Western Foothills, Mixed Broadleaf Woodlands and the Savanna Grasslands heading North.

  • Riverine Bush areas populate the River edges and can thus be found looking from an Ngwenya Lodge chalet patio, or lookout point. The foliage has near year-round access to water, creating a dense cover for species in the area. Commonly found on the floodplains are; elephant, waterbuck, crocodile and occasionally big cats and other game during the drier seasons when water is scarce.
  • Thorn Thickets are located towards the east along the Crocodile and Sabie Rivers and are characterised by large Acacia trees. During the summer months this thicket provides excellent cover for game seeking to wait out the heat of the day, and giraffe can often be found grazing from their favoured food source; the Acacia tree.
  • South Western Foothills make up the area enveloping Pretoriuskop and Berg-en-Dal to the West of Ngwenya Lodge. This area receives the highest rainfall within the Kruger Park and features incredible granite outcrops perfect for looking out over the Lowveld for a refreshment stop.

Nkumbe Lookout Point, Lower Sabie

  • Mixed Broadleaf Woodlands cover Skukuza and surrounds moving west into the National Park. The Woodlands are characterised by a range of Bushwillow trees and provide an excellent opportunity for guests wanting to spot predators. Regular sightings of lion, leopard and hyena are reported in this region.
  • Savanna Grasslands start north of the Sabie River and are a typical example of the Savanna biome; large open spaces covered in wild grasses and the occasional cluster of Acacia trees mark the area. This ample grassy vegetation means that large herds of antelope can be sighted here; zebra, wildebeest and rooibok cover the plains. The area also attracts many predators and cheetah put their speed to good use on the grasslands.

The Kruger National Park offers a wide range of ecosystems to explore and even more species to be sighted; a treasure trove of wildlife experiences. Journey into the biome and discover all this South African landscape has to offer.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Wildlife
A Tribute to Elephants

A Tribute to Elephants

If you have ever found yourself seated on the Restaurant Deck, on a private patio or at one of the game-viewing hides along the Crocodile River at Ngwenya Lodge, then you know that this is elephant country. Herds can often be seen grazing along the river bank and sometimes wander so close to our hides that you can see the colour of their eyes. So how then, could we possibly resist this tribute to elephants? Elephants are such magnificent creatures and Ngwenya visitors are often awe-struck by their incredibly humble presence; Ngwenya takes a closer look with a few unexpected and interesting facts about Loxodonta africana:

  • Anatomy

Loxodonta Africana, more commonly known as the African Bush Elephant, is recognised as the largest land animal in the world. When a bull wanders close to the Lodge, crossing the River and heading up the embankments, guests come up-close-and-personal with these sentient beings and start to notice a number of fascinating attributes. For one, elephants most distinguishing feature: their trunks, are made up of over 40 000 larger muscles, all working together to provide the elephant with a flexible, multi-purpose appendage. These muscles can then be broken down into 150 000 fascicles; tiny internal muscles which could be likened with spokes or villi. To put this into perspective, humans have approximately 750 muscles in their entire bodies.

The trunk consists of muscle groups, nerves, and connective tissue but no bone. The elephant’s skeleton starts at the tail and ends with the skull. It is most fascinating to discover, and no real surprise, that an elephant’s leg bones consist of mostly bone; the bone marrow is subsequently replaced with a spongy, denser bone material. This allows the skeletal structure of the elephant to carry the heavy weight of its muscular structure; bone marrow is lighter and would not provide the necessary support for the animal. An elephant’s red blood cell production thus occurs, not in its bone marrow as with humans, but predominantly in the pelvis.

  • Talents

An elephant’s anatomy lends itself to a range of “talents”. For example, elephants have been recorded using their trunks for a number of incredible tasks; elephants most commonly make use of the proboscides, small finger-like extensions on the tip of the trunk, to grip and snatch foliage, much like a human would use their fingers to pick objects up. The trunk is not only used for feeding, or drinking water, but has an innate ability to smell. An elephant’s olfactory system works through the millions of receptor cells found inside the trunk; the message is relayed to the olfactory cortex found in the ventral lateral brain. This ability means the elephant is even better than a bloodhound and can smell water kilometres away!

Further use of the trunk has been documented as elephants “snorkel” across rivers or bodies of water; the animal will hold its trunk above the water level and wade along the river bottom so that it may continue to breathe.

The trunk is not the only interesting talent an elephant possesses. An elephant’s tusks are incisor teeth which protrude from the skull and grow to lengths of 2 metres. Fun fact: elephants are known to favour one tusk over another, similarly to that of humans being left- or right-hand dominant. Tusks are used for a number of tasks including; stripping bark off trees as a food source for fibre and defending themselves against predators or competition

  • Epidermis

The average elephant’s total skin mass is 900 kilogrammes and can be an inch thick in certain areas. The upper dermis of an elephant is supple and not rough as it may seem; it folds and creases across the mammals body, retaining moisture and keeping the elephant cool. This wrinkling is no accident; researchers at the University of Geneva and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics presented new findings which suggest that the creases in an elephant’s skin are purposefully created. The tiny crevices and cracks are interconnected and offer higher water retention for evaporative cooling, and can hold more mud, in an effort to dissuade insects from biting and irritating these incredible creatures, than non-wrinkly skin. It has also recently been uncovered that elephant skin is not the same density or thickness across the board, but rather thins out in certain areas or “hotspots” such as the inner leg or over their ears. These locations are used to assist in cooling their blood; elephants are believed to have a certain degree of control over pumping their blood throughout their body and will push blood through the blood vessels near the surface of these “hotspots” to cool down.

  • Extremities

One such “hotspot” is an elephant’s ear; the skin over their ears is approximately a 10th of an inch. But this isn’t the only incredible feature of their ears; elephants have extraordinary hearing, too! The average elephant’s hearing range is between 12 hertz (hz) and 12 000 hz, nearly double the range of a human. In conjunction with their hearing, elephants also make use of their feet to receive communications from elephants further away. Through various studies, scientists have found that elephants communicate at a low-frequency level, much lower than the human ear can pick up, and that their communication pathways can be received and sent to elephants in an area as large as 100 square kilometres.

A large part of this evolutionary advantage can be attributed to an elephant’s feet and trunk. An infrasonic message will be sent through a series of low rumbles and vibrations from one elephant to another. The message travels through the ground and is picked up by the receiving elephant’s feet and trunk tip. Scientists discovered that a combination of bone condition, nerve endings and sensory receptors convey the message from their feet to the ossicles in an elephant’s ear. Elephants use this mean of communication to convey messages of: stress, mating calls and as a “tracker” when herds are spread far apart while searching for food and water during a drought.

  • Dynasty

During such times as drought, when families of elephants are scattered across the landscape finding food and water sources, the Matriarch will lead her herd to locations she has previously visited as a young elephant, or calf, where she remembers there being water or ample vegetation. This is just one of the incredible ways elephants display their connection to one another, and to their lineage. Usually an elephant herd consists of the Matriarch, her daughters and their offspring. At a certain age, the males will leave the group and form a loosely knitted bachelor group of their own. Interestingly, it has been documented that these elephant herds will continue to communicate with one another and stay connected across various families. Elephants display a level of empathy and connection between one another which is rarely observed in the animal kingdom; caring for each other’s offspring, sharing special bonds transcending distance and herds, and mourning for elephant members which have passed on.

Elephants
are incredible and magnificent creatures and are “awe-inspiring” to behold. 
Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Wildlife, 1 comment