A day in the life of an elephant at AWE

Mussina, Shan, Nuanedi, Chova, Chishuru and Zambezi start their day at 7am, when they are taken out of their stables by their handlers and led to their drinking area for morning refreshments. During this time, the handlers take the opportunity to brush the elephants down (this helps keeps midgets and insects at bay) and give them a general ‘once over’ to check if there are any injuries or cuts that need treating. This is the time to check the overall health of our elephants and it is also a good bonding exercise for the handlers and the elephants.

Once they are fully watered they then head out into the 300-hectare reserve with the handlers to free range feed on trees and shrubs.

If an interaction is booked for 8am, the elephants are taken to the Interaction Centre to meet their first group of guests.  They enjoy coming in to get the first dose of morning ‘treats’ and fuss and one never tires to see them gently saunter to the meeting place.

The Interaction Centre is the place where our elephants meet our guests.

The Interaction Centre is the place where our elephants meet our guests.

Once finished with the guests at around 09.00am, they head back out into the veld with their handlers to eat some more roughage, roam around and free range feed. They never tire of trying to get a sneaky bite of the handlers lunch while they eat with them under the trees. 

12pm is the next activity, when they follow the handlers in again to meet the awaiting group of excited and keen guests.  Again, the treats and supplementary feed awaits them and they relish the opportunity to come and meet everyone.

This session also lasts around an hour after which they once again are free to feed or, if the weather permits, go for a long swim in the large dam we have on the property.  They will happily frolic about in the dam until suitably covered with mud. Afterwards they'll dry themselves with plenty of dust to create a ‘sun cream’ to protect them from the sun.

Photo : Timothy Griesel

Photo : Timothy Griesel

Come 15.00, the elephants return to the Interaction Centre for their final date with our guests.  Again, more supplement food is provided as well as lots of attention from the public.  

Our elephants are done by 16.00 and then have another chance to head back into the bush before they slowly make their way back to their stables at about 17.00 and settle in for the night. By this time, the handlers have filled each individual stable with cut branches, hay and Bana grass (which AWE grows specially for the elephants) so they can feed in the night (elephants sleep only 4 hours a night).

Two handlers sleep next to the stables to ensure the safety of the elephants. They are also in charge of feeding them at three different intervals throughout the night.

If there are no guests booked then the elephants will stay out in the bush to free range feed, carry out fence controls, rest or play. Some days they free range feed on a neighbouring farm. Other days, they are engaged in research activities with our researchers. Often, they are being photographed by passionate wildlife journalists or film makers and simply being their beautiful selves.

Read more about our elephants 

Read more about the handlers

Read more about the elephants' home