Elephants are the largest land animals on Earth and quite a sight to see close up. While on our safari at Shindzela, in the Timbavati Game reserve we got very close to these majestic creatures. Not only did we have a young bull elephant challenge us we also got to observe two elephants fighting.
I thought he was going to charge us!!
Adult male elephants are solitary in nature but may associate with other bulls (adult males) in small, unstable groups. Males will leave the family unit (natal unit) between 12 and 15 years of age.
As the herd of elephants crossed the road in front of us one of them decided to take a closer inspection and looked like he was going to charge us. Luckily, after a brief inspection he moved on.
As the huge angry elephant walked off our attention turned to two young males who decided to fight right next to us! This was exciting and quite scary all at the same time.
And go!!! The fight starts
Tusks meet and it looks like a wrestling match
Fights take place when a male challenges the male guarding the female. Before a fight the elephants often kick up a lot of dust, which we missed. But we got to see them charge each other, bump heads and try and get at each other with their tusks. They looked like two young bulls who might have been play-fighting or really fighting for some reason or another, but not necessarily over a female.
This is my brother, very impressed by how close to the fight we are
Assessing the situation again
Bulls assess each others strength through sparring or play-fighting. The level of dominance is closely related to a bull’s size, power, and weight. As bulls mature, these characteristics increase.
The battles are often over in a minute after one bull, usually the oldest, has asserted itself as the strongest and most powerful. Some of the fights last several hours if the bulls are more evenly matched. This looked like two young males were equally matched but they did not continue for too long.
Elephants are not territorial. The home range is between 10 and 70 km2 (four to 27 mi.2) and possibly larger, depending on herd size and seasonality.
Elephants touch each other constantly with their tusks and greet each other with a touch of the trunk to the mouth. They also communicate by nudging one another and poking each other gently with their tusks.
Elephants love water. They like to swim, dive into the water and find great fun in fighting the waves. It also gives their joints a break with the buoyancy they get from the water.
They lifted their heads up high and attacked. Two mighty heads collided, tusks met and they mainly used their trunks to try and dominate the each other. They would retreat and after a brief moment attack again, trying to overpower each other.
Elephants have four molars, one on the top and one on the bottom on both sides of the mouth. One molar can weigh about five pounds and is the size of a brick!
Tusks are an elephant’s incisor teeth. They are used for defense, digging for water, and lifting things.
The elephant trunk has more than 40,000 muscles in it.
This continued for a while but as soon as they realized that the herd was moving on and nearly gone, they stopped and followed the rest of their family.
Only one mammal can’t jump — the elephant.
Elephants have a slow pulse rate of 27. For a canary it is 1000!
The largest elephant on record was an adult male African elephant. It weighed about 24,000 pounds and was 13 feet tall at the shoulder!
This was one of the most exciting moment of our safari!!
The end of the fight
Elephants prefer one tusk over the other, just as people are either left or right-handed.
Shindzela Tented Camp, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa