Addo Elephant National Park welcomes adorable newborn ellie

On Saturday 18 April, SANParks shared some exciting and happy news on Facebook. A new born elephant was spotted among a herd at Hapoor dam in Addo Elephant National Park.

The animal is minute in comparison to its family members. Spotting a new born elephant in the wild is such a luck. Ester van der Merwe, who is an essential staff member operating in Addo during the lockdown, captured the incredible sighting.

‘I was busy checking my camera traps when I came across a big herd of elephant at Hapoor dam. I have worked on several reserves and parks across South Africa, but I have never had the opportunity to get so close to elephants just being themselves amongst all the vehicles as in Addo, they are so placid and relaxed. It gives you the opportunity to learn so much about them as a species without them feeling intimidated or altering their behavior because of human interference.’

She explained that at first she didn’t spot the calf until the animal’s mother was right next to her vehicle.

‘I only realized there was a small calf behind the mother when she was next to my vehicle. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph small calves in the past but in general elephants won’t allow you to get so close with such a small calf in the herd. They generally form a circle around the young to protect them in the middle of the herd. This was the case in the beginning, but as the cow moved around it gave me the opportunity to see just how she engages with her calf amongst more than 100 other elephant at Hapoor at the time.’

van der Merwe spent time time marvelling over Addo’s latest addition.

‘The calf is still so small it often got disorientated. The cow would stop and turn around finding the calf and gently lead it back to her with her trunk, she would pick up its head and lift its little mouth to her teats helping it to find the milk. Patiently waiting for a few minutes before she would start moving again.

‘This happened a few times as the calf would instantly keep up with the closest elephant to it, which was an older sister in the herd. The amazing part was seeing how even standing still the cow would constantly keep her trunk close to reassure the calf she was close by.

It was an absolutely amazing experience. That is the true essence of Addo: experiencing elephant in a way you won’t get the opportunity to do so in any of our other parks in South Africa.

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