elephant spa

elephant bathing at Sabi SabiOver the last couple of days the bush has been extremely hot with temperatures soaring to 44 degrees Celsius.

When the temperatures start climbing like this most of the animals need to find some respite from the heat. Most of the animals will seek out the shade of a tree to get away from the African sun, other creatures choose to take long mud baths to keep cool.

The thick skinned herbivores spend the most time mud bathing out of all of the animals and do it so regularly that each year the wallows grow from the excessive use.

A single male buffalo can walk away with up to 15kg of mud attached to his body after just one wallow.

We have been inundated lately with elephants and we have been fortunate to watch some very interesting interaction. The one day we went up to the plains to the north of Little Bush Camp and found ourselves in the middle of a herd of approximately 100 elephants, ranging from little babies to full grown bulls.

elephant bathing

The bulls eagerly follow the herds around hoping to find females in oestrus in order to mate. The males will go into a state called musth, which can last anything up to a year, and in this time their bodies produce massive amounts of testosterone giving them the extra strength needed to move between breeding herds to find females that are ready to mate and fight off any potential competition for those females.

elephant bull in musth

All the elephants were searching for some water to take a much-needed drink and of course to spray themselves down to keep cool. We also watched as a couple of young elephants had a hustled for space in a small muddy area on one of the roads. As you will see in the video, the elephants were just collapsing on top of one another trying to get access to the tiny amount of mud hidden below the bulk of their bodies. It was one of those sightings where you don’t need to say a word…nature does all the guiding!

by: Richard de Gouveia (Little Bush Camp ranger)


  1. honey badger says

    Wow nothing like a good mud bath! Too bad Roland wasn’t there with his camera for some additional live action shots.

    • ranger rich says

      Whahahahaha…the calendar would have truly complete with the action shots!
      I really do love these animals SO much!

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