The Elephants and I were taken at Pilanesberg Game Reserve,
Sun City, South Africa
Sun City is truly amazing. There are 4 hotels, each better than the last, and so much to do! There are man-made environments that boggle the mind! The seaside, with a beach and waves you can surf on. Next to that are all kinds of water world rides, slides, tubes and fun stuff. They have planted a little rain forest with a stream running through it. There is a walk-through aviary with exotic birds of all kinds close-by. A lake for speed boats, a ferry, all kinds of water sports and the necessary equipment to do it is amazing. You can see farm animals going about their day, and you can feed and pet these cuties too. Birds of prey display their flying and capturing skills in regular demonstrations.
Just on the outskirts of the complex are other environments like the Butterfly Sanctuary where you can see some gorgeous live specimens. There is a crocodile farm with feeding demonstrations too. Finally surrounding this glittering gorgeousness is a game reserve with all of the Big 5 animals to top off your enjoyment. The animals range free and wild and are left to their natural behaviour.
Within the Game Reserve is a large Boma with a restaurant, shop and a small museum. The open-air restaurant overlooks a little lake. Regularly, morning and night, five adult elephants and a youngster come to visit. Guests are able to interact, feed, touch and photograph the elephants for as long as the elephants want to hang around.
Chikwenya is the Matriarch of the herd, and she has a daughter with Michael, the largest, but youngest male in the herd. The other herd members are also adult males. This is most unusual as elephant herds are normally made up of closely related females of different generations, plus their offspring. Young males usually leave the herd to join bachelor herds and only interact with the females when one is in oestrus, or they meet up at waterholes. This special elephant herd was put together using orphans that have grown up together.
I have visited them a couple of times and thoroughly enjoyed every moment! They are eager to meet and greet the guests, and each one has their own ‘spot’ to stand at. You are invited to take a handful of elephant pellets from a bucket and then offer it to whoever is in front of you. The elephant will curl its trunk up, out of the way, and open its large mouth. You must reach right inside their mouth and place the handful of pellets at the back of their tongue. It is quite exciting!
you are able to stroke their wrinkly skin with short, thick black hairs sprouting here and there. I love elephant eyes, they are full of intelligence and curiosity. The elephants watch the people as much as we watch them. They also like to investigate you and move their trunk around you, gently snuffling, as they take in your scent or investigate pockets or folds for hidden food!
The rangers tell you their stories, of where they came from to make up the little herd. They also pass on a little education about their habitat, breeding, foods, and other facts which are very interesting. the elephants decide when to leave, and will eventually wander off, with Tshikedi leading. You are left feeling so privileged to have spent time in their company, touching and being touched. It is a wonderful experience!
Elephant safaris are also offered, where you ride on an elephant and go through the Game Reserve to look at the wildlife. I haven’t done this, but maybe one day!
Michael and I having a moment. He’s not eating my hand, but I am feeding him some pellets. His Mahout is chatting to us. He’s a big boy, I was standing on a little mound.
In this one I am standing level with Michael, you can see how far I had to reach up to place his pellets onto his tongue.
Hello Michael, sweet boy
This is Chikwenya, the Matriarch, she is pregnant with her and Michaels’ 1st baby
Chikwenya’s herd, Michael is closest to camera and Chikwenya is furthest away.
Baby Lesego was born happy, healthy and joyful