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The Elephants of Addo

The Hapoor Dam, named after the legendary leader of the Addo Elephant herd is a hive of activity in the summer months in the Addo Elephant Park.

Hundreds of elephant taking mud baths and drinking copious amounts of water can be observed from the car park, together with buffalo and birds all sharing what is probably Addo’s most popular water hole.

There is a good chance visitors could even spot Valli Moosa, one of the new dominant males in Addo, who originally hails from the Kruger National Park.

Vali Moosa, one of the dominant bulls in Addo Elephant Park

With over 500 elephant in the Park, Addo boasts one of the highest concentrations of African elephant in the world.

The Addo Elephant Park was proclaimed by the South African Government in 1931 to save the last 11 elephant that had not been exterminated by hunters. The great herds of elephants and other animal species had been all but decimated over the 1700’s and 1800’s by hunters.

In the late 1800’s, farmers began to colonise the area around the park, also taking their toll on the elephant population due to competition for water and crops. In 1954, Graham Armstrong (the park manager at the time) developed an elephant-proof fence constructed using tram rails and lift cables and an area of 2270 hectares was fenced in.

Hapoor Dam in the hot Eastern Cape summer

There were only 22 elephants in the Park. This Armstrong fence, named after its developer, is still used around the park today. The only elephant to have managed to climb the fence was Hapoor, who was dethroned as the dominant bull by Lanky, who then drove Hapoor out of the herd.

Being a loner did not suit Hapoor, who decided to climb over the Armstrong fence. Knowing that no fence would ever hold Hapoor, and knowing his aggressive nature, the sad decision was made to shoot him.

A fight breaks out at Hapoor Dam

There is a cast of Hapoor in the information centre at Addo that clearly shows the missing piece (hap) of his ear (oor). It is believed that a bullet shot by a hunter caused the wound, leading to Hapoor hating humans for most of his life.

On more than one occasion park staff was forced to flee when Hapoor made his appearance! With elephants needing to drink up to 200 litres of water per day, most visitors to Addo Elephant Park manage to see the giants of the African wild.

A mud bath at Addo Elephant Park

Situated a mere 120 km from Jeffreys Bay, Addo is perfect for a day trip for locals and tourists alike. Jbay News will be continuing with a series of articles about Addo, its animals and accommodation.

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