The Abu Elephant Experience

Sep 16, 2015 Trip Reviews
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An Abu elephant experience creates lasting memories, emotional bonds and understanding as guests spend time immersed in the elephants’ lives…

The Abu Elephant Experience

Abu Camp is justly renowned for offering Africa’s premier elephant interaction experience. Sadly not all operators apply the same rigorous standards of elephant welfare that are the long-established norm at Abu, and it is our sincere hope that by remaining true to the principles on which Abu Camp was established, we can set an example to the rest of the industry and truly be a centre of excellence for elephant conservation.

The way we look after the Abu herd has evolved over the years to take account of the latest research on elephant nutrition, wellbeing and veterinary care. The herd is free to roam around the bush by day when they are not participating in an activity with guests, and they are only confined to their custom-designed boma at night as they do not all have the necessary experience to manage potential confrontations with predators and wild elephants.

On the occasions that an elephant has shown that he or she wants to leave the Abu herd, it has been freely allowed to do so.

There are currently six elephants in Abu Camp’s resident elephant herd, all of whom are female. Their familiarity and seemingly genuine affection for humans offers guests an unparalleled opportunity to become steeped in the African environment and transform their perception of elephants, wildlife and quite possibly their outlook on life itself.

The Abu experience

At Abu, each guest has the chance to engage and physically interact with the herd elephants through a variety of activities designed to give guests the deepest possible understanding of what it means to be an elephant in Africa.

Shortly after arriving in camp, guests are personally introduced to the Abu herd. It is very often at this point that real and lasting emotional bonds are formed between elephants and people, mirroring in their sincerity and intensity the bonds between the human and elephant members of the Abu herd and an extension of the natural bonds that exist between herd members in the wild. Elephants’ capacity for emotion, from joy to trepidation to anger to mourning, has been well documented. There can be no doubt that they are highly intelligent creatures, with advanced communication abilities and a concern for their fellows that would put many humans to shame.

The Abu Elephant Experience

Almost every guest activity has been designed to offer guests an all-encompassing and satisfying journey into the world of the African elephant. Crucially, guests can experience the wonders of the African bush through the eyes of the elephants by either walking with the herd or viewing wildlife from the back of one of the herd elephants. This is a completely different way of seeing the bush and the opportunities and possible threats it represents.

Physically interacting with the herd and participating in or just observing activities such as mud bathing, training and veterinary care allow guests to come as close as is possible to understanding just what it means – and feels like – to be an elephant. Talking with the elephant handlers – whose love for the individual elephants is readily apparent – lets Abu Camp guests gain insightful expert interpretations of elephant behavior.

The Abu herd members also function as ambassadors for their species, sharing with guests an important message of conservation and hope for each elephant life, with the aim of spreading this message even further.

The researchers based at Abu are gaining important insights into the movements of individual elephants and the herds of northern Botswana through fitting satellite tracking collars to both herd members that are re-introduced to the wild and wild elephants. The researchers greatly enjoy sharing these insights with guests, which rounds out the Abu elephant experience – an experience that ranges from experiencing precious moments with individual elephants to learning more about elephant conservation issues on a continent-wide basis.

The Abu elephant experience is sure to create lasting memories, emotional bonds and understanding as guests spend time immersed in the elephants’ lives.

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By Nick Galpine

The call of the wild – and too many BBC wildlife documentaries – persuaded Nick to abandon the smoky steelworks of his childhood for the clear waters and immense skies of the Okavango Delta. Arriving at Mombo on the same truck as the first reintroduced white rhinos in late 2001, Nick soon realised (as did the rhinos) that this truly was heaven and earth. With the ashes of his return ticket to the UK cooling in a campfire somewhere on Chief’s Island, Nick spent the next several years helping monitor the first wild rhinos in Botswana in a decade. Several years of camp management across the Wilderness portfolio subsequently ensued but by early 2014 it was time to check out a different kind of jungle and Nick relocated to Johannesburg to focus on marketing, and pursue his interest in the manoeuvres of the world’s finest taxi drivers.

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Comments

Josephine Bestic  Sep 25, 2015

Thank you for pointing that our Douglas - rather embarrassing! Have rectified with a correct image. All the best, Josephine

Douglas A. Groves  Sep 18, 2015

Nice article, however I see that you are using a photo of Morula walking with a guest. Morula resides with us in CHA/NG 32 and is not part of the Abu herd. We offer educationally based encounters from Sanctuary Retreats Stanley's Camp and Bains Camp