Elephant - Loxodonta Africana

In theory the Elephant started it all, classic African hunting that is..... those great recounts of Courtney Selous, Burton, the Muirs in Nyasaland, even Livingstone, their travels into the vastness of an uncharted continent after the riches of ivory. They still linger in our memories and provoke that excitement we all feel when we think of Africa, toting a double rifle over your shoulder and taking on a beast the size of a London bus.

An Elephant bull with heavy ivory topping 100 pounds is considered by many as the ultimate African trophy and hunters dream of the day they can relive one of Africa's oldest hunting traditions. Despite their size, Elephants are worthy of their status and offer one of the most arduous challenges available today.

Most people believe Elephant hunting is illegal and become annoyed with anyone who suggests the contrary. Elephant hunting is allowed in African countries where their populations are stable, adequately protected and well managed. Perhaps of all endangered species, African elephants are the least likely to disappear because of what they are - they are the last surviving mega fauna of the world and the biggest threat they face is human en-croachment into their habitat, not from trophy hunting.

There are no sub-species listed for record purposes although there is a difference between the savannah and forest Elephants; the latter living in the sub-tropical rainforests of central and West -Africa. The Forest elephant is smaller-bodied and their lighter ivory has an orangey-pink lustre to it. They are very bad tempered, possibly due to living in dense forests where they cannot see very far and stampede at the slightest sign of danger.


Elephants once roamed the African savannah in their thousands forming vast herds which followed the seasonal migrations. Beginning in the 16th century, they were hunted commercially for their ivory. Their slaughter culminated in the 1980s when their number had been reduced almost by half. Since then, active legislation and a worldwide ivory ban has resulted in a stabilization and increase in the Elephant population in countries with sound conservation policies.

Today the largest problem facing the Elephant is its large appetite and the shortage of habitat mostly due to human encroachment. They are continual feeders, resting during the heat of the day and are destructive to their habitat if confined to certain areas, often destroying hundreds of trees only to browse a few leaves off one branch. Their impact extends to the destruction of the habitat of other species as well thus creating a serious dilemma for conservation.

Elephants live in herds, with a matriarch as the leader. Older bulls break away from the herd and often form small bachelor groups, with younger bulls acting as "askari" for the older males. They travel great distances in search of food, and often follow a seasonal route covering hundreds of miles. They have to drink water every day, often chasing other game away in times of drought although they are often the first to dig for water in dry riverbeds creating pools for other species.