Check Availability
Sign up to our newsletter

Blog + Guide Diaries

Ruaha blog: Seasonal Elephant Dynamics of Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Author: Lorenzo Rossi, Guide at Kwihala Camp
Date: 05 May 2014
Ruaha blog: Seasonal Elephant Dynamics of Ruaha National Park, TanzaniaBy Lorenzo Rossi, Guide at Kwihala Camp

I always say: “The dry season is the best season for predator viewing, and the rainy season is the season for elephants!”

After the first heavy storms hit Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania, the exciting phase of dry season activity dominated by the constant battle between huge herds of buffalos and lions within the triangle made by Great Ruaha River and its attributes the Mwagusi and Mdonya rivers comes to an end, welcoming another similarly exciting phase of lush green transformation.

Compared to most other national parks in sub-Saharan Africa, Ruaha’s elephant population is fortunately still very strong and healthy – in fact, it contains the highest population in Tanzania.Throughout the year, elephants behave according to the availability of food and water that is accessible in the different seasons.

During the dry season, elephants are mainly browsers; feeding on twigs, branches and leaves, pulling up palm blooms and stripping baobab bark for its pulpy fibres. Their social behaviour is also deeply influenced by this season’s conditions.Elephants are in general to be found everywhere, however during the dry season they are mainly scattered into single herds of 8 to 12 individuals, moving to the rhythm decided by the matriarch and only rarely interacting with other herds.

This behaviour is most likely due to the need of avoiding over-exploitation of certain areas, and as they can potentially find something to eat anywhere along the river valleys, over-crowding a single area is simply pointless to them. The same reasons are involved in the quest for water that time of year. The Mwagusi as well as the Mdonya River are basically dry on the surface, though water constantly flows underneath the sand at an increasing depth the further we get into the dry season. The elephants dig for water anywhere in these river beds and although some spots seem more appealing than others, only rarely will you see more than 30-40 elephants in the same drinking spot at that time of the year.

When the rains set in, Ruaha is transformed. Dusty patches of soil become lush green lawns, “upside-down trees”, the baobabs, with their root-like branches become intense green canopies of life, and rusty brown landscapes characterized by yellow tongues of sand are now glorious green thickets intersected by flowing rivers.

The elephants’ behaviour changes accordingly. The elephants are attracted to the areas where the rains arrive first, where new nutritious green grasses grow. Suddenly, these gentle giants become more social, gathering in huge groups formed by many different breeding herds and bulls in search of females in oestrus. These groups can reach up to 200-300 individuals, all moving together, slowly and completely focused on grazing the new grass. They mainly move with the rain and the availability of large quantities of palatable grass species. Obviously, drinking spots become a big confluence in the stretches of rivers closest to where the feeding occurs.

In this green and lush time of year, it seems like the elephants have taken over and are now the owners of Ruaha. However, as beautiful as this still is, the urgency of keeping constant attention to poaching is more important than ever in order not to have any interference and disturbance to these wonderful creatures’ way of behaviour. A behaviour that has been passed on from generation to generation, a behaviour that should not be destroyed by human activity.

Visit our Ruaha blog at www.ruahablog.com


Back >
VALID: 01 Jun 2014to 19 Dec 2014
(for travel within 4-6 weeks only, depending on property)
Are you flexible enough to take advantage of last minute offers or flexible enough to vacation outside of peak occupancy periods?
VALID: 01 Jun 2014to 31 Mar 2015
(excluding 20 Dec 2014 to 5 Jan 2015)
Matemwe remains one of the most secluded resorts on Zanzibar and is perfect for a relaxing and exclusive beach honeymoon. 
VALID: 01 Jun 2014to 19 Dec 2015
(excluding 20 Dec 2014 to 5 Jan 2015 and 1 Jul to 31 Oct 2015)
Stay for 4 nights and 1 night is on us. 
This offer is valid for Matemwe Lodge, Matemwe Retreat as well at the private Matemwe Beach House.
CLICK TO VIEW SAFARI & BEACH DESTINATIONS MAP
Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania
Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania
An exclusive camp nestled on an uninhabited island, home to chimpanzees, elephants and the elusive sitatunga.
Ubuntu Camp, Tanzania
Ubuntu Camp, Tanzania
Following in the footsteps of the Great Wildebeest Migration, this traditional safari camp receives incredible praise from guests for its authenticity and warm hospitality.
Rekero Camp, Kenya
Rekero Camp, Kenya
Rekero Camp has a long and proud history in the Mara that lends to it a depth of character and low-key authenticity that is the hallmark of this luxury tented camp.
Ubuntu Camp, Tanzania
Ubuntu Camp, Tanzania
Following in the footsteps of the Great Wildebeest Migration, this traditional safari camp receives incredible praise from guests for its authenticity and warm hospitality.
Naboisho Camp, Kenya
Naboisho Camp, Kenya
On a private conservancy, that is an example of conservation and communities working together, Naboisho offers an opportunity to gain an understanding of the Serengeti Mara ecosystem.
Olakira Camp, Tanzania
Olakira Camp, Tanzania
Olakira is a luxurious under-canvas camp that moves with the seasons, following the wildebeest herds through the Serengeti to ensure a front-row seat at the greatest show on earth.
Ubuntu Camp, Tanzania
Ubuntu Camp, Tanzania
Following in the footsteps of the Great Wildebeest Migration, this traditional safari camp receives incredible praise from guests for its authenticity and warm hospitality.
Dunia Camp, Tanzania
Dunia Camp, Tanzania
Combining pristine wilderness with the intimacy of a timeless tented camp, Dunia Camp offers superb game viewing all year round from its secluded location in the heart of the Serengeti.
Sayari Camp, Tanzania
Sayari Camp, Tanzania
This upmarket camp is one of the finest in Africa, offering luxurious lodgings in some of the best Big Five country on the continent.
Olakira Camp, Tanzania
Olakira Camp, Tanzania
Olakira is a luxurious under-canvas camp that moves with the seasons, following the wildebeest herds through the Serengeti to ensure a front-row seat at the greatest show on earth.
Oliver’s Camp, Tanzania
Oliver’s Camp, Tanzania
Walking safaris are the specialty of the camp, and the depth of knowledge and experience of the camp naturalist guides makes Oliver’s Camp a firm favourite amongst safari enthusiasts.
Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar
Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar
Combining the spirit of Zanzibar with the highest standards of luxury, Matemwe Retreat’s secluded villas are considered the most exclusive choice on this exotic island.
Matemwe Lodge, Zanzibar
Matemwe Lodge, Zanzibar
Overlooking a shallow coral fringed lagoon on the quieter northeast coast of Zanzibar, Matemwe’s peaceful location and relaxed atmosphere, makes it the ideal place to unwind.
Matemwe Beach House, Zanzibar
Matemwe Beach House, Zanzibar
On the chalk white Matemwe beach lies Matemwe Beach House; the perfect holiday home for a family or small group wanting a private slice of this beautiful coast line
COMPARE CAMPS AND LODGES
Unsure of your ideal Asilia safari destination?
Click on the links to view the different destinations, camp locations and the experiences on offer at the Asilia camps and lodges.
Camps + lodges
Local Airports