An Unexpected Wild Elephant Bull Visitor!

by jabulani safari blog

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Outdoor dining took an unexpected and most pleasant turn of events recently as a wild elephant bull visited the lodge dining area!

In preparation for our guests’ lunch last week, an unexpected visitor roamed ever so proudly right up to the outside dining area. The wild bull curiously stayed close by the lodge waterhole watching as our staff prepped and advised the guests to not get too close – as it is a wild bull travelling alone.

When elephant bulls get older, they leave their birth herd to subsequently live alone or in small bachelor groups. Sometimes the bulls are accompanied by a few younger bulls known as askaris, but this bull was travelling alone. He stayed for quite some time, just curiously roaming around the dam with the buffalo, allowing the perfect photo opportunity for guests!

As much as it was a very interesting and fascinating experience to have a wild elephant bull close by to the lodge, allowing an incredible experience for the guests, an elephant that roams alone who could be in musth can be very dangerous. But fortunately this bull visitor was not in musth and seemed to be on his best behaviour and was just very curious.

When an elephant bull is in musth, it dribbles a strong-smelling urine in large amounts which causes discolouring on the inside of his legs. They also secrete from the temporal glands which stains the sides of their head. Bulls become quite aggressive when they are in musth due to high blood testosterone levels. They travel long distances to get away from areas of related female elephants. Whilst travelling, they emit sound waves to attract oestrus cows – sounds we cannot hear as humans. A bull in musth will challenge any bull that gets in their way of the cows and him.

Later that evening, it is believed to be the same bull that came back to visit the waterhole by the lodge dining area. Again, there was no sign of aggression, but rather just an atmosphere of peace for our guests to enjoy, reminding us of how gentle these giants can be.

unexpected wild elephant bull visitor!
An unexpected wild elephant bull visitor!

Read more about the elephant family dynamics in our HERD blog about the importance of social structures within a herd.


  1. Loved your post. However, and I hope I am not missing posts regarding Khaynesia – or is it because she has now joined the herd and we won’t be following her as much – this little girl has truly captured our hearts – she began every day in my life just to see her progress and I am truly missing knowing how she is doing.

  2. How amazing. I have visited relatives in South Africa and visited game parks but never had an experience like this. I did see an elephant visit the waterhole at night on my first visit which was so emotional for me as I am an elephant fanatic. Also on another trip we were on an evening game drive and had to wait while a group of elephants cleared out of our path at a lake and it was pitch dark. Amazing.

    1. These sound like amazing experiences Susan! Seeing an elephant in the dark can be quite intimidating from personal experience!

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