A Short battle for dominance of a dwindling water hole - Savute Safari Lodge

A Short battle for dominance of a dwindling water hole

The below article is from Andrew Flatt, our Desert & Delta Safaris Marketing Executive, from his recent visit to Savute Safari Lodge. 

I recently spent some time at the beautiful Savute Safari Lodge in the Southern region of the Chobe National Park, as explained by my cool-guy African safari guide Baba, and enjoyed one of my best elephant interactions to date.

On my first game drive on the afternoon I arrived, Baba took us to one of the watering holes to see what would come down for a drink. He explained how during this time of year the water was drying up and watering holes became less and smaller by the day. This meant the remaining ones had to be shared, much to all the animals’ disapproval.

Elephants in the Savute region of Botswana

Two lone bull elephants at the waterhole in Savute

As we sat watching what Baba explained was a bunch of Lone bull elephant’s that had all come down separately to drink, something interesting happened. One bull, an old elephant, did not like the idea of sharing with another approaching, thirsty lone bull. They met at the water’s edge, standing a few metres apart, clearly sizing each other up. The new male slowly advanced and the old boy retreated slightly until they were both standing in the water. After a minute or two of staring each other down, in an instant, they both lunged forward at each other and a colossal, but short lived battle ensued. They clattered and banged, trumpeting and splashing water everywhere! And after 20 or so seconds, they stopped, paused for a second and slowly backed away from each other. Interestingly, they then shared the water hole giving each other enough space to drink.

Elephant bulls fighting in the Savuti region of the Chobe National Park in Botswana

The two bulls sizing each other up

Elephants fighting for dominance Botswana's Savuti Region

Lunging forward in an instant just before making contact

Bull elephant in the Savute region of the Chobe National Park with Savute Safari Lodge

Heads and tusks clashing as they make impact

Fighting elephants in the Savute region in Botswana

Hard clash as the two bulls make contact with each other

It all happened so fast and was such an interesting experience! But I couldn’t quite understand it? So I posed the question to Baba, “What was that?!?” He gave a hearty laugh before explaining;

“In the dry season, the water scarcity causes a lot of movement for the wildlife. The elephant’s are forced to start congregating around the water that is still available. Ordinarily, these animals would choose to avoid this as safety is priority one for most of them.

While elephant’s are very social animals, the older bulls that have been kicked out of the breeding herds tend to wander alone. This obviously leaves them slightly vulnerable and thus they are normally a bit on edge and alert.”

Baba really has a way with understanding and making guests understand.

It turns out, this meeting of two giants was not an act of hatred or anything of the sort. It was a battle of dominance over a scarce resource. We as humans sure know about that! The reason they backed off and happily shared the water, Baba explained, was because there had been a winner, maybe not an out and out winner, but one of the bulls had decided, this isn’t worth getting hurt for, and had backed down to just enjoy the water that would quench his mighty thirst.

This was not the only battle of bulls we saw, but it was definitely the most dramatic! A very interesting afternoon spent by the watering hole!

For more information on the incredible experiences on offer in the Savute Region of the Chobe National Park visit the SAVUTE REGION on our website. You can also read more on SAVUTE SAFARI LODGE as the perfect stay for your Savute safari.

Article and photos by Andrew Flatt

Desert & Delta Safaris

Established in 1982, Desert & Delta Safaris’ portfolio brings together some of Botswana’s most historic and iconic lodges: Chobe Game Lodge, Chobe Savanna Lodge, Savute Safari Lodge, Camp Moremi, Camp Xakanaxa, Camp Okavango, Xugana Island Lodge and Leroo La Tau.

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