“Tuskers and Trunks”
As we move into 2015 at pace, one of this years undoubted highlights at Nyumbani will be the introduction of a further elephant herd from a neighbouring reserve to boost our current population. It brings not just even greater opportunity to observe these amazing creatures around the Reserve, but further genetic diversity to our current population. Currently we have a single mature bull and 14 strong breeding herd on the Reserve and we are rewarded with regular sightings of these animals on Nyumbani. They clearly have always held an affection of the south east section of the Reserve and thus are often found helping me with the bush clearing on the farm as they are more than partial to uprooting the occasional tree!! Sadly, many people view this as a reason to excessively limit the number of elephant on their properties, but these animals play a huge part in ecological cycle of the land and whilst there are casualties in respect of some of the trees, this in turn provides habitat for other smaller mammals and reptiles and in due course, returns further nutrients to the soils. Serious habitat degradation only occurs when confined populations of elephants are improperly managed. Definitely not the case on the Blue Canyon Conservancy.
Most of our guests are surprised to find out that an elephant can have a very varied diet, very much dependent upon local conditions and ranging from nuts, leaves, grass as well as tree branches. Now we can begin to understand the benefit of having that versatile trunk which is capable of picking up a single nut off the ground with a finger like action, to shredding leaves from the branch of trees or ripping up roots. Given their comparative size, they eat surprisingly little; around 5% of their total body mass, on average around 200kg of food matter per day. In all, elephants can spend up to 16 hours per day feeding and such frenzied activity naturally has it’s consequences … the expulsion of up to 155kgs of dung every day!!