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Elephant Hunting In Zimbabwe
Elephant hunting in Zimbabwe is one of the most thrilling experiences you will have. This large beast is awesome to see and a magnificent trophy.
About The African Elephant
The African elephant has the distinction of being the largest of the elephant genus. He is also the world’s largest land mammal.
All the elephants on the planet belong to the Elephantidae family of mammals. Within this family, there are two subspecies of the African elephant.
The African bush elephant is found in the grassy plains and woodland areas south of the Sahara Desert.
These large herbivores are browsers, eating leaves, twigs, bark, grassroots, and fruit. They need to eat most of the day to supplement their large size and are destructive in the process.
They can stand over 3.3 meters in height at the shoulder and can weigh between 6 and 7 tonnes.
Their dark grey skin blends in perfectly with the bushveld. The skin color is very difficult to see if they are stationary in a wooded area.
Despite their size, they are extremely soft-footed and quiet. But can move very quickly when they need to. Do not think that they are slow and clumsy – quite the opposite.
The trunk is extremely flexible and sensitive. It is an extension of the nose and upper lip with two opposite extensions at the end of their trunks. This sets them apart from the Asian elephant family – who only have one. These extensions make it possible for them to easily collect leaves and twigs for eating. Drinking is also achieved using their trunks to suck up water and deposit it into their mouths in large quantities. The trunk is also their main form of communication.
Despite having fairly poor eyesight, their hearing is very good. Their excellent sense of smell also makes them very aware of what is going on around them.
The African elephant, both male and female, are known for their large outward curving tusks. They can reach down to the ground in very old bulls. Tusks grow throughout their lifespan, which can reach between 50 and 70 years.
You will often find a bull elephant with a broken tusk on one side. This is generally caused by fights with other bulls. The tusks may also have broken on a tree or when digging in the ground for roots.
And of course, the other most important feature is their very large ears. These help them cool down by radiating excess heat. Elephants also showcase them forward when agitated and showing force or aggression.
Elephants are very intelligent animals and have an incredible memory that they can call upon. It is a well-known fact that this memory recall is called upon in times of need for water and fresh feeding areas. During the dry seasons, the matriarch will guide their herd long distances to watering holes visited in years gone by.
Elephants are often seen showing human emotional traits. These include happiness, mourning, anger, and playfulness.
A herd is a close-knit community that has a female matriarch as its leader. She tends to be the oldest and largest female of the herd with the most experience. She has the job of teaching the younger members of the family herd discipline and how to socialize with each other.
As a result, these immense animals are very social beings and communicate with each other and other herds very politely. When close to a herd you will hear rumbling sounds emanating from the herd. This is them talking to each other. They can also communicate via sub-sonic rumbles that are not audible to humans. These sound waves travel through the ground. Elephants up to 2 or more miles away will receive these messages through their trunks and their feet.
Herds are generally made up of females and their young calves, of between 6 and 20 members. When the family herd gets too large, it will naturally break up into smaller groups. They will, however, stay within the same browsing area to maintain communication and safety. These groups together can form a “clan” of up to 100 members.
Elephants are very sensitive to the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of members of the herd. They will come together to protect and assist injured or weak members when needed.
Both male and female elephants, between the ages of 8 and 15 years of age, become sexually mature. In this case, the males will leave their herd around this time.
They will have to find food and protect themselves either as an individual or join a small bachelor herd.
Elephants live throughout the savannah areas found in sub-Saharan Africa.
These regions support wide areas of grasslands, dry mopane, miombo woodlands and scrub areas. You will also find elephant herds in deserts, and by lakesides that may or may not have marshy areas.
In other words, they like any habitat that provides plentiful food and access to water.
African elephants, in the dry months, will migrate long distances to find a new source of water when their local waterholes dry up. They will only browse within a daily walk from a source of water. They are large consumers, needing 150 kg of food and approximately 40 liters of water per day.
They live in diverse habitats which provide either grasses, twigs and leaves, roots and fruits in enough quantities for their herds.
They tend to be destructive feeders, stripping and pushing over trees to reach food and pulling out grass by the roots. You will always know when an elephant herd has been through the area because of the broken and bare branches.
An elephant hunt is generally done on foot, identifying and following fresh tracks. The professional hunter generally has an experienced tracker in attendance who will search, interpret and follow the signs.
Determining the direction the elephant has taken can be tricky – especially on hard ground. A telltale sign is a distinctive “scuff” mark that is created by the toes movement forward. Without this little sign, you could be following the tracks in the wrong direction! In softer soil, you can determine the smoother heel of the foot, this quickly tells the tracker in which direction the animal is headed.
A further good sign that you are on the right spoor, is a very distinctive “S-shape” pattern. This is created by a bull elephant. They often drag their trunks on the ground periodically over short distances.
A tracker must always use his sense of hearing on the chase. You can hear elephants ahead by the cracking of branches being broken. This is a natural occurrence as they browse through the bush.
Most hunters will be looking for an older bull with a larger tusk size as a trophy. This does come with issues – older, larger bulls if not on their own will be surrounded by younger, alert bulls. They will often raise the alarm or else be in the line of vision of the large bull you would like.
On the other hand, tuskless cows who have calves can be very aggressive. This hunt can also be dangerous and long.
Elephant hunting requires patience, endurance and possibly some heat and sunburn discomfort.
After possibly hours of walking, you will then sight the animal. Then you determine whether he is a worthy trophy.
He may not be, and the next day is another opportunity!
African Elephant Trophies
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