The African Elephant

Vital Statistics

  • Weight: Males +- 5 tons (12 100lb)  Females +- 3.7 tons (8140 lb.). Some elephants can weigh even more and up to as much as 7 tons.

  • Height: Male 3.2m (11 feet) Females 2.8m (9 feet)

  • Gestation period/pregnancy: 22 months

  • Food type: Elephants eat trees as well as grass, about 50/50 ratio

  • Walking speed: Average of 10 kilometers an hour (6 mph)

  • Short distance charging speed: 40 kilometers an hour (25 mph)

  • Social group structure: Herd led by a matriarchy

  • Average lifespan: 60 to 65 years

  • Territory size: 15 – 2200 km2 depending on food availability

 The Social Organization of Elephants

The African Elephants have several group organizations with the most common being a large herd of elephants led by the matriarch, which is usually the oldest and strongest female of the herd.  Within this herd, you will find related females, alongside their offspring, young daughters and their offspring, etc. This type of herd can have anything from two to twenty-four individuals; however, it is normal to find about 9-11 individuals in an average size herd. These numbers can obviously increase and have been recorded in the past. This large number in a herd usually has to do with habitat degradation or limited resources, forcing the herd to congregate near the available and limited food sources.
You will notice when you come across a herd of elephants that are actively feeding that they will seem to fragment, with some individuals being a couple of meters away from each other and spaced apart. The matriarch will determine the activity, direction, and pace at which the herd will be traveling.
When a herd of elephants experience danger or are disturbed, they will cluster around each other and look at the matriarch for leadership. Since leadership plays a fundamental role in the lifespan of an elephant, it is the female elephants that sometimes expand their average lifespan of 60 to 56 years, well beyond their age of reproduction.
As soon as the matriarch turns 50 or 60 years old, a new matriarch will take her place and the old matriarch will then leave the herd.
Young male elephants between the age of 12-19 year will leave the matriarchal herd during a gradual separation process whereby the young males become peripheral, following the matriarchal herd at a safe distance; firstly not wanting to leave the comfort of their mothers and the herd, but soon after leave. If they do not want to break away from the herd, the individual will be pushed out by older females or their mothers due to intolerance of the boisterousness and sexual precociousness of pubescent males.
After the young bull elephants finally become independent, they will either walk alone or join a bachelor herd that is usually a herd of between 2-14 individuals but can also grow to quite large numbers.

Food and feeding behavior of African Elephants

Elephants are grazers and browsers, meaning they graze the grass below and browse up high for tree leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, thorns, etc. Some people refer to this as mixed feeders.
Elephants can be quite destructive when feeding, as they break trees to either get to the roots or the inaccessible leaves on the top of the tree.
Elephants due to their size have to consume a large amount of vegetation in order to get their energy levels up to sustain their needs. Elephants can eat anything from 150-300kg of plant matter daily, depending on their size. Elephants also have poor digestion and only 40% of what they eat gets absorbed into nutrition for the body. Elephants not only eat a lot but also require plenty of water. They can drink anything from 160 liters and up in a single day, depending on their size of course.

Reproduction of the African elephants

Females that are sexually mature and ready to mate, go into a hormonal phase called estrous or oestrus. During this phase, they exhibit certain behaviors around bull elephants whereby females become wary of approaching bulls and try to walk or run away – this is also called the estrous walk, and if the male is adamant to mate, the walk turns into a chase which is the estrous chase. The female will only give in if the male can reach and touch her. He will then proceed into a brief ritual whereby the male elephant lays his tusks on the female’s shoulders & head and then moving to rest his tusks or chin on her rump in other to mount her successfully.
After a long gestation of 22 months, a single calf is born, weighing about 10-130kg (9284 lbs.) and stand about 90cm (36 inches) tall. The elephant calf can stand within a few hours and suckles with its mouth from the mother’s teats or mammary glands that are located between the two front legs. The calf will explore and experiment with vegetation at around 6 months old. Young elephants are only fully independent at the age of 10 years, the second-longest period of adolescent dependency after humans.

African Elephant communication

African Elephants are extremely social and converse in conversation that is tactile, olfactory as well as vocal. They also make use of a wide range of signaling gestures that symbolize greeting, caressing, and affection. Elephants rumble, trumpet, squeal and scream. There are over 30 postures and movements conveying dominance, threatening, defense, submissiveness as well as fighting displays.
Another fascinating way of communication that elephants use is called Infrasound- these are sounds originating outside our range of hearing but can travel several kilometers over vast distances.

The African Elephant’s trunk

The elephant’s trunk is an extension of the nose and has no bones in it. It is prehensile and capable of grasping a small rock to wrapping the trunk around a big branch with its two finger-like protrusions that almost resemble fingers on the tip of the trunk.
The trunk is used to communicate, produce sound (trumpet), signal, gesture, breath, smell, and of course suck up water like a straw to spew into the mouth to drink.

The African Elephant’s  Tusks 

The tusks of elephants are an iconic feature of elephants. Both male and female elephants bare tusks, but some are born without them. The tusks are basically elongated upper incisor teeth that protrude from the mouth.
Males have bigger, longer, and more thickly tucks than females. Tusks continue to grow indefinitely. An elephant’s tusks are made from ivory that is a sought-after material, loved by many people. Many elephants in the past, as well as the present, are killed annually for their ivory.

YES! We offer affordable Kruger National Park safaris

Our rates include the following:

  • Transfers from a pre-arranged pick-up location to Kruger National Park and back (this can be at your accommodation where you are staying, depending on the location). This includes Nelspruit | Kruger National Park | KMI Airport | Skukuza Airport | White River | Hazyview | Malelane | Komatipoort and Marloth Park

  • Full Day safari with a luxury open safari vehicle

  • An accredited & professional Field Guide doubling as the driver of the vehicle on the day of safari

  • A snack box per person consisting of various treats to munch on during the day of the safari

  • +- 8 Hours of sheer “entertainment” in the world-famous Kruger National Park (excludes travel time outside the park)

  • Assistance with Kruger National Park entrance/conservation fee payments, paperwork and permits

  • The use of high-quality, waterproof ponchos on-board the vehicle when needed

Please note:

Our area of operation covers Nelspruit and surrounding areas, White River | Malelane | Hazyview | Komatipoort | Marloth Park | Kruger National Park | KMI Airport | Skukuza Airport.

Please contact us if your accommodation falls outside of our area of operation.

We also conduct safari tours in the North of Kruger upon request and need. You also have the option to hire the safari vehicle privately, email us to find out more. Additionally, you have the option to add your Kruger entrance/conservation fees when you make your booking so you don’t have to go to the office on the morning of the safari to make payment for entrance fees.


Fantastic experience

We really enjoyed our safari with Liz and the web photographer. They pointed out many sightings which we would never have seen on our own. We saw 3 leopards, many elephants, rhinos, cape buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, hippos and different types of antelopes and birds.
They provided binoculars which helped a lot, especially when observing the leopards in the reed!
The service is top: on time, friendly, very informative and you get a feeling how much they enjoy “going the extra mile” for the customer. They tried to keep ahead of the crowd and do not enter thru Numbi gate which is usually very crowded. Its great the park fee is included in the price because then you do not need to queue at the entrance like in the case of some of the other operators. We will definitely recommend you!

dorischristina2015, TripAdvisor
Emocional experience

When we thought about that trip, my wife, my stepson, our friend and I ,had never imagined how amazing could be , and how deep can touch us. From the first moment when we founded Lizelle, our guide at the Malelane door, the magic begins to happen.She was so unreal in some way, that my wife said ( in Portuguese,) she seems to be a caracter from a movie!, We had very good luck , and in just 2 full days, 20 hours total, we could see the real big five, including black rhino and leopard, and many many other species, of course. Lizelle was so nice, so professional and so dedicated that we are recommended to our friends around the World to do the same program.. .. we will repeat it for sure. There is not words, not video or pictures, that can transmit this experience, .. believe me, after you live it you will understand it .

FellowTraveler507918, TripAdvisor
Great services! Amazing commments

The guide was very friendly and helpful!
She really knew the way around the park and we were able to see a big variety of animals

344hama, TripAdvisor
Super accommodating and informative.
Liz was super patient in making sure we get the morning bush walk and night drive within limited dates. They know lots about every animal we saw. I love that they provide parkas for their guests because it gets super chilly as the truck moves. Their truck is clean and not loud like other trucks which tend to scare the animals away.
Zzame Em, Google Review
Leading Safari Company

Lion Roar Safaris offers safaris in Kruger Park. In an excellent car and with professional equipment we discovered in a small groupe the big 5. The guide was an expert and is very customer oriented.

DutchAdventurer, TripAdvisor
Spectacular day in the Mighty Kruger!

Even if the weather was cold during the day, the spectacular sightings we had made up for it all. Luckily this company is not one of those that rush from one big sighting to another but rather take it at a slower pace and therefore not miss even the small things like some bird species and trees and plants, lizards and much more.
Oh and I am so glad their Photographer was also on board with her very sharp eye sight. She spotted plenty of animals where the rest of us missed them…especially that Cheetah! And she took the most beautiful pictures (and some short videos clips) of all our sightings that day. We were surely one lucky group of people seeing all those magnificent wildlife, especially the Elephant Calves, Wild Dogs as well as Hyena Pups!
Oh and let’s not forget the snack bags that was packed for us!!
The Guide was very informative and interactive with our group. Evidently her kindness and helpfulness is not only restricted to the time a guest is on her vehicle still busy on the Tour but even helping when one of our group members was staying over at a place in the Kruger Park, she assisted him from booking in at the camp to taking him to where he would be staying, to briefly showing him around on what is where and available to him in the camp. And this all took merely a few minutes.
I would definitely be recommending Lion Roar Safaris.

Grifinne, TripAdvisor

Best experience ever!

Lizelle was very informative and made sure we had the best views of all the animals!

Johan , Google Review
Amazing experience

Staff is professional and on time.
We saw a lot of animals like lions cheetah hyenas rhinos elephants hyppos and many others.
Really an amazing day!! Thank you!


Some of the services Lion Roar Safaris Offer…

Upmarket Luxury Safaris  I  Tailored Safaris  I  Professional Personal Holiday Photographer   I  Hire a Professional Field Guide  I  Hire a Private Safari Vehicle   I   Accommodation in and around Kruger   I  Photographic Safaris   I   Safari catering – picnic lunches, dinners and BBQ’s and more…

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