Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

Mud Bath

Country: Botswana
Reserve: Linyanti Reserve,
Lodge: Kings Pool

Mud Bath

This is a picture of an elephant spraying mud and water all over its  body. All elephants adore a good mud bath, they play and loll in the mud from grandmothers to infants. Soothing and cooling, this natural treatment protects against insect bites, sun and heat.  Elephants spend a lot of time in water and mud to help them keep cool, since like all large animals they have proportionately less skin area relative to their body mass. The elephant can collect gallons of water with the trunk and then give itself a quick shower. They cannot survive more than 24 hours without drinking. That's why elephants are never too far from a water source.

An elephant's skin is extremely tough, and is about 2.5 cm thick. Even though elephants are referred to as pachyderms, which means 'thick-skinned animals'; elephants know that a mud covering is essential to their health, hence they will wallow in the mud or suck up water to spray on their bodies during bathing, then blow dirt and mud over themselves. The mud will dry and act as a protective sunscreen.

This picture was taken in the Linyanti Reserve.  The Linyanti River (later named the Chobe River), forms the natural border between Namibia and Botswana. Linyanti Wildlife Reserve is located on the southern banks of the Linyanti River. Chobe National Park is the western boundary for The Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. The last stretches of Africa's Great Rift Valley separate the forests of the interior from the rivers and floodplains of the Linyanti and it is along this ridge - and along the Savuti Channel - that the best wildlife can be seen. The Channel stopped flowing between 1980 and 2008; during this time it was an unusual and productive ribbon of grassland that served as a corridor and feeding ground in the surrounding woodland for a wide variety of herbivores.

In 2008 the Savute Channel once more became a deep, clear waterway harboring hippo and aquatic life with myriad varieties of water birds. Wildlife, from plains game to a plethora of predators, has had to adapt to a new source of water and all the opportunities and menaces it brought with it. For different species the channel has become a place of refuge, an obstacle, an unrivalled food source, a navigational aid, a larder, a playground, and a graveyard. It is impossible to say yet whether the waters will persist or begin to recede in earnest as much of this will depend on  summer rains.
The Linyanti area is renowned for its predators and large concentrations of game, particularly elephant. Dereck and Beverly Joubert made the region famous in their National Geographic films. "Eternal enemies" is a classic, and chronicles in detail the interaction between lion and hyena. National Geographic estimates "Eternal enemies" has been seen by over a billion viewers.

The camp and its lagoon take their name from King Leopold of Sweden who honeymooned here in the mid 1900's.

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