World Elephant Day: Celebrating the Giants of Mana Pools

Robin Pope Safaris • 12 August 2019

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This World Elephant Day, we celebrate with Robin Pope Safaris the majestic beasts of Mana Pools National Park, some of the rather unique characters among them and the critical elephant conservation work in Zimbabwe’s wild northern corner.

Mana Pools is home to approximately 12 000 elephants – one of the largest concentrations in Zimbabwe! Watching the large herds saunter through the forests of acacia albidas is simply magical and something everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime.

Whether by foot or on a game drive, the elephants of Mana keep everyone fully entertained. One elephant, in particular, has become quite the legend, fondly known as Boswell or ‘Bos’ for short. What makes Bos stand out from the rest? Well, he quite literally can stand on two feet! 

Most elephants are rather lazy and prefer to wait for the baboons to shake down any ripe fruits from the winter thorn trees, but not old Bos! Over the years, he has perfected the art of balancing on his hind legs in order to get to his food source quicker, much to the delight of anyone who happens to be passing by. His unique feeding habits have given him both local and international fame.

David Amyot is the head guide at John’s Camp and knows Bos very well! In fact, John’s Camp regularly has elephants walking right through camp. 

One, in particular, is becoming quite a menace! His name is JD, short for Juvenile Delinquent, and as his name suggests, often lacks in the respect department. Having realized he is the ‘boss’ and thus quite unstoppable, he casually goes about causing chaos as he makes his way through the camp. Whilst being a gentle and graceful giant, he is probably the biggest bodied elephant in Mana Pools and so he does leave some mess and destruction on his way out. 

Despite their vast numbers and size, the elephants of Mana Pools are extremely vulnerable and constantly at the risk due to the demand for ivory. That’s where the Zambezi Elephant Fund comes in. This non-profit organization was set up in 2015 and have been at the forefront of anti-poaching activities in the Zambezi Valley.

They work together with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, NGOs and the private sector to develop, implement and manage  numerous wildlife protect and conservation activities, such as anti-poaching operations, anti-poaching ranger training, and technology and systems for anti-poaching operations.  They are to be commended for their work in protecting the gentle giants of Mana Pools and, through their dedicated efforts uphold Thomas Schmidt’s words that “No one in the world needs an elephant tusk but an elephant”.

Chat to Robin Pope Safaris about experiencing the magic of a Classic Zimbabwe safari at John’s Camp


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