African Elephants of the Chobe Hot

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African Elephant portrait by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick.jpg

African Elephants are an icon of Africa! Sadly, human greed is decimating their populations across the continent with estimates stating that an elephant is killed every 15 minutes! This senseless killing is driven largely by an Asian market that prizes the ivory as ornaments. These cravings drive organised crime and international terrorism through funds generated from the illegal ivory sales. Fortunately, while many African Elephant populations are under threat, those in Botswana are well protected and are therefore thriving. This makes the Chobe River one of the best places to view and photograph these magnificent animals.

I was recently privileged enough to spend a few days with Pangolin Safaris on their river-boats that are specially designed for wildlife photography. This provided some of the best photographic opportunities that I have had for several years, with amazing chances to photograph the large numbers of African Elephants that congregate along the river during the dry season. We had regular sightings of small bachelor herds of elephant bulls that were extremely relaxed to our presence and through a slow and gentle approach we were able to get close to these bulls and really study and enjoy their presence. Wide-angled lenses soon became the order of the day, providing interesting perspectives that really  highlighted the elephants massive size and yet also brought out their gentleness. 

Larger breeding herds of elephant, that were led by wise and slightly cautious matriarchs, played and frolicked in the water as they crossed from the mainland to lush grass-covered islands. After having spent the day feeding on these islands, most of the elephant returned at dusk to the mainland of either Botswana or Namibia. This really highlighted that our conservation efforts for these animals needs to focus on the elephant’s entire home-ranges that do not understand or abide by human made political boundaries. The work being undertaken by Elephants Without Borders is so important in the conservation of one of Africa’s greatest assets and we as individuals, must also make an effort in supporting these conservation agencies so that they may continue with ensuring that Africa's great icons will continue to exist into the future.

African Elephant bull feeding in the Chobe by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

1 of 12: An African Elephant bull grazes on lush green grasses that are found on the islands of the Chobe River. In the background Cape buffalo and other herbivores also graze.

African Elephant feeding at sunset by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

2 of 12: An African Elephant feeds at sunset on an island in the Chobe River 

African Elephant bull feeding at dusk by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

3 of 12: The relaxed nature of the Chobe River African Elephants allows fantastic opportunities for wildlife photography.

African Elephant bull crossing the Chobe river at dusk by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

4 of 12: An African Elephant bull crosses back to the mainland after sunset and after having spent most of the day feeding on an island in the Chobe River.

African Elephant herd crossing the Chobe River by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

5 of 12: A breeding herd of African Elephants cross between islands in the Chobe River.

African Elephant herd on an island in the Chobe River by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

6 of 12: The matriarch leads a breeding herd of African Elephants to rich feeding grounds in the Chobe River.

African Elephant bulls drinking by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

7 of 12: Young African Elephant bulls drink and bathe lazily in the Chobe River during the heat of the day.

African Elephant using its trunk as a snorkel by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

8 of 12: An African Elephant uses its trunk as a snorkel as it swims across the Chobe River.

African elephants playing in the chobe river by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

9 of 12: Two young African Elephants jostle and play in the cooling waters of the Chobe River.

African Elephant swimming across the chobe river by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

10 of 12: An African Elephant swims across the Chobe River to reach the islands where it will feed for most of the day.

African Elephant emerging from the Chobe River by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

11 of 12: A young African Elephant bull glistens with water running off its body after swimming across the Chobe River.

Mud bathing African Elephant bull by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

12 of 12: After having swum across the Chobe River, a young African Elephant bull enjoys a mud bath and a short rest.

A special thanks must be given to SA Airlink that sponsored my flights to Kasane and connects you on a daily basis from Johannesburg to Kasane and the Chobe.

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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: http://www.peterchadwick.co.zaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
About
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.