Desert adapted elephants of the Hoanib

With the nowadays disturbing information that the numbers of the Desert Elephants are declining due to loss of habitat and persistent drought, we decided to try and find them in the Hoanib in Namibia.

Easier said then done, the preparation took us almost a year to find the right location and guide.

From Windhoek we’d to drive for more than three days, park our car in a small village to be picked up by our guide Frank.

The next day we started our search with our customized car. We found out that the Family with the females and calves with one dominant bull has left the area and could not be reached. Luckily we found three bulls still sauntering in the valley in search for food and water. There are several water sources in the dry riverbed which are pushed up by underground rock formations. That’s also the reason for the trees to grow in this riverbed which provide food for them. 

The message we waited for, finally came “the family is back” we found them a couple of hours later, nine females, three calves and a dominant bull at a respectful distance. Sadly two calves died the past weeks, only one out of three survives the first six months, due to the hard conditions.

We were waiting for them as they were walking towards us through the desert landscape between rocky mountains on red sand. Suddenly we saw a big dark cloud rising “sand” Frank said, there’s a sandstorm approaching, prepare yourself. Not an ideal situation in an open vehicle, but we had no choice, the Elephants were also coming. Wrapped a scarf around our head, and hoped for the best. The females took the calves between them to protect them against the storm. A few times it looked like we were blown over but everything kept standing. We could follow the Elephants to a sunken riverbed a bit protected against the storm. Everything and everybody is covered with sand. But we got where we came for on our last day.

The next day Frank brought us back to our parked car to return to Windhoek for our flight home.