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Africa Geographic
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Three elephants in Manyoni Private Game Reserve, South Africa

While many people go on safaris with the hope of having some spectacular wildlife encounters, sightings can never be guaranteed and any encounter with the wilderness should be treated as a privilege in itself. However, if you’re lucky, nature may just treat you to something wonderful.

This is what recent guests at Rhino River Lodge discovered while out on a game drive within the Manyoni Private Game Reserve. Rhino River Lodge Ranger, Murray Harrison, shared a little more about the sighting:

“When we first noticed the elephants, they were on a hill in the distance. We made our way through the winding hills, stopping about 60 metres from the herd to get a better view. The elephants were very relaxed and going about their daily routine, when one of the elephants decided to approach the vehicle. I’m quite familiar with this particular elephant as she has very curious nature and will often approach the vehicle, touching and inspecting it with her agile trunk. This incredible interaction is always by her own choice and amazes me every time.

I do not in any way try push to get close up to animals as I have a great respect for wildlife, elephants in particular. I believe that this respect goes both ways, and in the case of this elephant, it is evident that she doesn’t see us as a threat, but rather as an object that she can be relaxed around. You can see this by how gentle she is with touching around the cruiser.

Elephants are known for their fantastic memories and I believe that her unobtrusive and nonthreatening experiences with vehicles in the past plays a large role in this elephant’s behaviour.”


Safety first

When out in the reserve, guest safety is always a main priority for the rangers at Rhino River Lodge. Before every game drive, guests are given a briefing on the ‘do’s and don’ts’ when at a sighting, and the rangers always ensure to keep a safe and respectful distance from the animals. In the case of an animal approaching the vehicle, the rangers use their in-depth knowledge of wildlife behaviour to assess if there is any risk and will react accordingly.

The wonder of an elephant’s trunk

Elephant trunks are amazing appendages. In addition to helping elephants drink and forage for food, they are used for social greetings and communication between herd members. Elephant trunks are also extremely powerful, with over 40,000 muscles, divided into as many as 150,000 individual units. Despite being such a powerful tool, the tip of an elephant’s trunk is very sensitive and precise and can be used to sense the weight, shape, temperature and size of an object.

Rhino River Lodge

Rhino River Lodge is a Big 5 safari lodge in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is situated along the shore of the Msunduze River in the southern section of the Manyoni Private Game Reserve. This 23,000 hectare private game reserve is located in the very heart of Zululand – just 30kms north of Hluhluwe Game Reserve. It’s in an area renowned for its African wildlife and rich cultural heritage. The private game lodge offers you an intimate and comfortable safari experience, with excellent game viewing and luxury accommodation.