Let me start with this. I’d planned on doing a comprehensive post on our elephant interaction yesterday morning at Kwa Madwala, with photos and stories from earlier days when it was open to the public. Today is a brutally hot and humid day with around 90F, 32C, but the dew point is 73. The air is so thick it’s almost hard to breathe, and I’m struggling to get motivated, a rarity for me.
Based on hard times over the past few years and the financial ravages of Covid-19, the formerly famous game reserve has been closed for almost two years. It has become rundown, requiring a massive renovation and restoration. Plans are in the works to bring this magical place back to life next year.
Online is it described as follows:
“This unique hilltop camp is without a doubt the true pride of the Kruger Park south area. In 2000 the neighboring farms abandoned hunting which was very much in vogue and joined the vision in terms of eco-tourism, and the name was changed to Kwa Madwala, meaning ‘the place of the rock’ in Swazi.”
I’d hoped to find a website for the reserve, but unfortunately, their site is no longer active, and there was very little information online to aid in the preparation of today’s post. The guide at the property, one of two that introduced us to the two wild elephants, told a story about the property while I was engrossed in taking photos and watching the magnificent beasts.
Tom filled me in on the details today to help me share the remarkable story of the elephants and how they came to become such an integral part of the property.
There are seven elephants in the herd. Yesterday, we met two of them, a female and a larger male, brother and sister. Two calves were born in the past few years, a few years apart. Years ago, the plan in the area was to cull the elephants due to some economic reasons.
The elephants were rescued and moved to the bush near the reserve and placed in a boma while they were cared for and fed in an attempt to get them used to be around humans. It took over 18 months of loving and gentle care to watch the elephants change from hostile wild animals to gentle giant beasts, suitable to being around visitors and guests of the reserve.
No ropes, chains, or disciplinary instruments were used on the animals at any point. A thoughtful food reward program was instituted from the start, and in time, they associated humans with kindness and tasty fruits, vegetables, and pellets.
The female elephant, the first one shown, is 34 years old, and the male, her brother, is 30 years old. We couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more. When the elephants had enough of us, they wandered off after the handler jumped off and returned to grazing in the bush. They are not fenced or chained. What a fantastic experience!
After the elephants left, Louise and Danie set up a fabulous brunch for us and Rita and Gerhard. There, at the picnic table on the resort’s veranda, the enjoyment of the special day continued with great food, drinks, and conversation. A special thanks to Louise and Danie for managing a way for us to get into this now-closed venue and be a part of this extraordinary experience. The elephants were happy to interact with humans and show off their skills once again. Such amazing animals. Such a fantastic day.
Wow! It was a fabulous birthday! Tomorrow, we’ll share Part 3 of my birthday celebrations when our group dined at Jabula and had one heck of a good time.
Thanks to our readers, family, and friends who sent me countless birthday wishes. It meant the world to me!
Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2021: