Kariega Game Reserve is a paradise for African elephants and their safari guests and rangers experience many memorable moments with these gentle giants – as is depicted in this series of five fascinating facts and photographs…


 1.  A newborn human baby weighs around three kilograms (7 lbs) and takes 12-18 months to learn to walk. A newborn elephant weighs up to 120 kg (260 lbs) and walks a few hours after it is born.


 2.  The trunk is the elephant’s most important and useful body part. It is able to sensitively pick up a single blade of grass or rip a branch off a tree with a brute force.


 3.  Elephants spray themselves with dust to protect their skin from the sun. Ideally they like to swim first and then spray themselves with dust to form a muddy crust.


 4.  An elephant’s tusks are modified incisor teeth. An adult male’s tusks will grow about 20 cm (7 inches) a year. They are used to dig, debark, clear paths and fight if necessary.


 5.  Elephants are intelligent and can show human-like behaviour and emotions including grief, compassion, affection and playfulness.

With thanks to Kariega guests and field guides for the photographs: Guest Hannah Morrison, Urban Madison, Kelly Valentine Johnsen, Brendon Jennings

This article first appeared on www.kariega.co.za and is republished with Kariega’s kind permission.