Superorder dugongs, hyraxes and elephants (Paenungulata), order mammals with a long, muscular trunk (Proboscidea),
family elephants (Elephantidae)





Elephants (Loxodonta africana) are always one of the attractions in a park. Since reserves and parks are not fenced they migrate long distances in search of fresh food. Therefore it can happen you meet elephants around every corner or it is very hard to find any. Elephants depend on water to drink and to bath. An elephant herd is led by an experienced cow.  The members are related. Bulls stay off the herd and join in when a cow gets on heat.

Where no elephants pass acacia bushes grow very thick and make it difficult for any one to pass. They keep the savannah an open grass land with some trees maintaining the antelope’s favorite habitat. When the river is dried up they dig holes to get access to the ground water leaving some for other animals as well. Some trees like the fan and doum palms depend on  their fruits being eaten by elephants to germinate after passing their intestines.

Family in the Ewaso Nyiro River Samburu/Buffalo Springs reserves
Photo Charly Grimm





Elefant frisst Baobab





An adult elephant spends 16 hours per day eating. He consumes up to 140 kg, but the total 37 m long intestines only digest 40 % of it. The undigested plant material favours birds, beetles and others. The long and sharp thorns of Acacia trees do not bother elephants. Photo Charly Grimm


Baobabs are the largest succulents and even do not die when the bark is pulled away all around. No wonder elephants love eating the fibres in dry spells. Best to observe in Tarangire National park.






Water means life… elephants need water daily and walk long distances to get it. Old cows know the places where water can be found also during dry seasons. Elephants dig for water and that also helps other animals to survive.

A bull drinks up to 227 l of water daily at once up to 98 l. The trunk fetches 12 l.


Elephants suffer from a lot of external parasites. Bathing in mud and thereafter rubbing on a tree or stone as well as throwing mud, dust or soil onto their bodies removes at least some of them.

When elephants are annoyed they can also throw dust to warn the opponent.







Minerals are essential for their growth and tusk. They dig for them and leave visible signs behind.

Left in the Aberdares, above in the Kitum cave at Mt. Elgon.









Not even 2 weeks old, the baby on the right gets tired quickly and keeps on searching for the milk. They fit there until they are about 1 year old. The gestation period is 22 months. A fresh born weighs between 90 – 100 kg. An elephant herd exists of mostly related cows led by an old and experienced cow. Bulls keep some distance and join when a cow is on heat.

Elephants are the only mammals beside monkeys and apes having only 2 tits which are between the front legs/arms.






A big bull passed us with no aggression, with no shyness.
Sadly they become rare due to poaching.

Their live expectancy of an elephant depends on its teeth. It is between 60 and 70 years. 6 times in its live span teeth grow on each side from behind to the front part of the jaw, each larger than the previous one. When the last teeth are finished the elephant is sentenced to death by starvation. On the front side of the skull an immense number of muscles are fixed to make the trunk as useful as it is. The skull is porous to reduce weight.

Widespread over Africa.

Newest DNA comparisons reveal that their are 2 species of elephants in Africa.






Superorder dugongs, hyraxes and elephants (Paenungulata),  order hyraxes (Hyracoidea), family hyraxes (Provaviidae)

Hyraxes are together with dugongs the closest relatives of elephants. What elephants and hyraxes have in common: tits are between front legs (hyraxes have totally 6 of which 2 are between front legs), the structure of their feet and vertically growing incisors.

Rockhyraxes (Procavia johnstoni) live in large groups in rocky areas. The entrances are smaller as the leopards size, so it can not get in. While feeding they are always alert and utter shrill barks and whistles when danger approaches. Leopard, python snakes and large eagles feed on them.

Photo Rolf and Maria Bonkwald



Rockhyrax saeugend

After 225 days gestation already big and well developed young are born. Beside milk they take plants very soon. The teeth grow constantly and are visible in older animals. The soft feet soles allow a firm grip on rocks. They erect white hair on the back when excited exposing a gland.

Widespread in Africa.