monkeys swim across river south africa
Monkeys swimming across a crocodile-infested river in South Africa. Photo: Gavin Udal

Well known KwaZulu-Natal safari guide Gavin Udal captured a rare scene last week, at the Hluhluwe Game Reserve in South Africa, of a troop of Vervet Monkeys swimming across a swollen crocodile-infested river! This is not something monkeys would usually do.

Monkeys crossing a swollen crocodile infested river
All photos by Gavin Udal, Wendy’s Country Lodge in Zululand, South Africa

Gavin – who owns and runs Wendy’s Country Lodge & Zululand Adventures – said: “What brave little souls! In all my years guiding and being in the bush, I have never seen this.”

monkeys swim across river south africa

Monkeys crossing a swollen crocodile infested river


Fortunately all of the monkeys did make it safely to the other side. But why they chose to take such a risk and cross the crocodile-infested river remains a mystery.

Monkeys crossing a swollen crocodile infested river

Monkeys crossing a swollen crocodile infested river

Gavin says there are three main possibilities: “Were they being harassed by a predator, was it due to a lack of food source, or another troop pushing them out of their territory?”

He also observed their innate wisdom. Gavin says the vervets entered the river, not where the current was strong, but rather “where there was an eddy and (then) swam into the current which pushed them out onto the opposite bank. Animals are way more intelligent than we give them credit for.”

Male elephant swims to cool testicles!

During the same week, Gavin also photographed an elephant mother and her offspring crossing the river.

elephant swim river south africa
Photo: Gavin Udal, Wendy’s Country Lodge

As can be seen, only one of the elephants is actually swimming.

elephant swimming river south africa
Photo: Gavin Udal, Wendy’s Country Lodge

Gavin explains: “It’s possible the elephant that is swimming is a young male. Males like to swim to cool their body temperature, and in turn their testicles. As the testicles are retained in the stomach area it’s important to maintain a constant body temperature (37 degrees) in order for the sperm to survive. Although the primary cooling comes from the ears, a cool swim also helps.”

elephant swimming river south africa
Photo: Gavin Udal, Wendy’s Country Lodge

Wendy’s Country Lodge is an 8-sleeper house in lush settings, close to St Lucia and Isimangaliso Wetlands. Together with Zululand Adventures’ daily guided safaris into Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Park, they provide a “gateway to Nature, where visitors can explore Nature and love Nature together”. Wendys Country Lodge Zululand Follow Wendys Country Lodge: