Does elephants swim?

Well, judging by this photo I took on a river safari in Chobe National Park at the end of March -15, I know for a fact that they do – and they like it!

Chobe National Park is one of Botswana’s most prestigious national parks, world-famous for its hard conservatory work and its large elephant herds. Roughly 120 000 of elephants live inside this park but it’s also habited by herds of impalas, cape Buffalo, hippos, kudu, bushbuck, warthog, baboons, lions and wild dogs etc.

As a part of my African trip in 2015 with African Travel Company (booked through OntheGoTours.com though), I got the chance to go on a 2-day game-drive with one night camping inside the park. We brought our chef Joseph and tents with us, but our lovely Chobe-guide Chaps was the one driving us around and kept us up at night telling stories by the campfire. A very knowledgeable lad who could answer any questions you had about the park itself, Botswana and of course about the elephants. He believes a great deal in this specie and is very grateful for the Botswana government who early on back in the day understood the economic value for tourism and therefore put a lot of energy and effort into conservation. This resulted in Africa’s largest population of elephants but also very strict laws regarding poaching. As Chaps said one night:

“[…] it’s a far worse crime to poach an elephant than to kill a man”.

All year around the military are out patrolling the park (we saw them several times) and its boarders, nevertheless their fight against ivory trade is difficult. When capturing Rovers filled with tusks it’s usually hard to prove that the tusks are in fact from Botswana as well that the driver and possible passengers actually are involved. However the tusks do get burned straight away when found in order to prevent future trade.

Since the Chobe River (natural border between Botswana and Namibia) covers a big part of the park it’s also possible to do safaris in boats. We tried it out one afternoon and one can simply sum it up as amazing! Due to the current drought we were fortunate to spot several herds by the shore drinking, covering themselves in mud (or sunscreen as the guide refered it to) or swimming across to the Namibian side in hopes of finding greener areas. When the elephants crossed they first lined-up in a straight line and used their trunk to grab the tail of the elephant in front of them. Once crossing they tried of course to stick to the shallow ends, however if an elephant (particularly the younger ones) were to get its whole body under the surface it simply started to bounce (!) up and down the bottom and make its way across.
On the cruise we also could spotted hippos lurking around as well hundreds of different birds.

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Want more information about Chobe National Park? Check out their at official website: http://chobenationalpark.co.za/

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