Elephants swimming at Pridelands

A live production, elephants swimming at Pridelands

Watching the elephants swim at Pridelands is a fascinating natural theatrical production.

They don’t just enjoy dust baths; their favourite kind is when they’re fully immersed underwater. They love to interact, touch each other with their trunks, climb onto each other’s backs, and play in the water. Each elephant approaches and engages with the water differently. For them, it is a moment to bond and be social while cooling down from the hot sun in the Pridelands Conservancy. It makes one wish you could join them in their fun!

Wonderful water

Watching them run up to a dam makes you realise how important water is to them. It is where they connect, play, learn, splash, swim and drink. Young bulls spar with each other and sometimes take the sparring out of the water to size each other up. The females protect their young and keep them close to ensure they do not drown or get into trouble. 

Natural swimmers

Swimming comes surprisingly easy to these massive, gentle giants. They have a natural ability to float and can do so for long periods, and they can also walk along the bottom of a dam or river using their trunks as snorkels. Their lungs are uniquely adapted to be able to handle changes in pressure while they snorkel. It’s magical to see one minute an elephant is there and the next it has disappeared. Looking closely at the water, you should see part of the elephant’s trunk peeking above the waterline.

A different kind of shower

After swimming, they usually shower themselves with dust and mud, and it’s incredible to see how they change colour and delight in the exercise. If you look at some of the trees around the dam, you will notice that they are covered in mud or bent at a peculiar angle.

Photograph © Cameron Clements, 

A favourite scratching post

These trees are an elephant’s favourite scratching post; after all, when you have an itch or a few pesky ticks bothering you, what better way to get rid of them than to scratch?

Photograph © Karolina Krol

When done, the elephants quietly slip away and disappear into the bush, looking for food to fuel their enormous bodies. And you are left smiling and content, silently taking in what you just witnessed—a magical display by our favourite Gentle Giants.

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