Addo Elephant Park is 13,500 hectares. It started smaller and there are plans to increase the park by buying adjoining farmlands. It's about a one and a half hour drive from Capetown. There are several private game parks, also, and it was a little strange to be driving along in our bus, look out and see fenced fields, not that different from those at home with cows in them, only these had grazing zebras.
While the elephants are the focus of the park, given its name, there are many other animals there, also. Here is a sampling:
The second picture is the first animal we saw, and large tortoise who did not look overjoyed to see us, but it also did not let our appearance interrupt its meal. Tortoises of various sizes were all around the open areas of the park.
These are three young lions, clearly the best of friends, soaking up the sun.
A male in must can be unpredictable, and aggressive. When J-P wandered into the parking area, our guide warned us to be very quiet. The lady in the blue car kept her window open, making a video. A moment after I took this picture, though, J-P started sniffing and feeling the car door handle with his trunk. She kept filming, and when he started investigating her, she quickly closed the window.
The rest of the herd had left the waterhole, but they waited on the other side of the parking lot for him. Elephants are very family oriented, and like to be together. I was told that when a close family member dies, they grieve. Another guide told me that he'd been following a herd in which the oldest matriarch was becoming weak. As she followed the herd, she kept wobbling, and then falling. The others waited for her. After a time, though, it became apparent that she was suffering. At that point, two males came to where she lay on the ground and stabbed her with their trunks. The guide said this was a act of mercy, to end her suffering. I have no idea what to believe, but seeing how the herd treated the young ones in their midst, I can believe I saw affection and even love.
Now for something completely different - some of the other wildlife I saw:
One last elephant.