The mango eating elephants of Mfuwe Lodge
Every year, between late October and mid December the elephants arrive at Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
The whole family of elephants comes to eat the wild mango (Cordyla africana) fruits which fall from a tree just beyond the open plan lobby.
An intrepid matriarch called Wonky Tusk, (named for her backward-facing tusk) was responsible for teaching her family to seek out the delicious fruits over a decade ago.
Undeterred by the fact that the safari lodge is in their path, the elephants carefully traverse the vaulted thatched reception, carefully negotiating the tiled steps – why walk around when you can take a short cut through the lobby?
Three generations of this elephant family return every year and their behaviour is the cause of much amusement with a TV documentary focusing on their antics, news articles reported and even a children’s book about this delightful elephant’s antics!
The elephants have the run of the place — Wonky Tusk’s offspring, Lord Wellington, was born in the lodge grounds in 2009, and at just two days old took his first steps in the lodge. He’s not shy either and has been known to lift a pen or two from the reception desk with his trunk!
Andy Hogg, director of the Bushcamp Company, which runs Mfuwe Lodge, says “The elephants start coming through base camp in late November of each year to eat the ripe mangoes from our trees. They travel through the lodge for about four to six weeks, usually returning every day or so to eat the mangoes.” Andy goes on to say ”this is the only place in the world where elephants freely get so close to humans.”
Lodge manager Ian Salisbury says ”there’s great excitement when the elephants walk though, but we try to keep everyone calm, the elephants are usually very relaxed and pay little attention to people, so much so they have been known to fall asleep here!”
More information on the elephants of Mfuwe Lodge
- The best time to experience this elephant encounter is during November and early December, just after the summer rains have started. This is the start of our “green season” in Zambia
- A typical safari into the Luangwa valley runs for about 7 to 10 days to include Mfuwe Lodge plus the remoter bushcamps of the South Luangwa.
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