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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: 28 November - 12 December 2023*  

A school group viewing a herd of elephants from a safe distance in a vehicle

Playing hide and seek with elephants at Tuli

Volunteers at the Tuli Conservation Project spend most of their days monitoring the wildlife in the stunning Tuli block. While they learn to identify animal movements based on the tracks they find, sightings are an important part of the work as well – especially if you are trying to ID individual elephants. Elephants aren’t exactly known for their tiny size, noiseless approach, camouflage or any other feature that might make them easy to miss, but it appears they have been playing a game of hide and seek with our Tuli volunteers this week:

“Ellies are still in short supply though the group that didn’t go to town on Thursday this week saw a couple of elephant family groups instead. The elephants seem to be moving at night and hiding during the day and despite our repeated night drives we can’t manage to be in the same place as them at the same time! …earlier and later at the right place is easy!

On Thursday night a group of elephants played in the Mohave River approx. 40m from our camp – they were seen by a few of the students, who were braving the cold night air. A lone bull interrupted our game count on Wednesday (he’s a well-known Ellie with a droopy left ear) giving a nice photo opportunity. We had a sleepout at Leopard Koppie on Monday, which everyone enjoyed. A sundowner walk over the koppie (rocky hill) had us within a metre of a porcupine, which was really nice. Overnight we heard hyenas in the distance but other than wildebeest nothing came close to the camp. As we left the overnight camp on Tuesday morning, we got a nice view of a Cheetah cub as it disappeared off into the bush. Since then we’ve seen lots of lion tracks and a coalition of cheetah’s tracks yesterday.

A short walk to the Limpopo on Wednesday gave us a nice view of a croc on a sandbank and another river walk in the Limpopo at Lekkerpoet yesterday showed us more crocs and some very nice scenery of the river rapids. Otherwise plenty of general game with masses of Zebra here at the moment, lots of wildebeest and of course Impala.”

Ian Charles, Student Coordinator