Matriarchs for Women’s month

By Roxanne Devonshire

This month I decided to focus a little bit on one specific species which I absolutely love. This species is Loxodonta Africana or as we all know them the African Elephants. They are such special animals, they are extremely smart, live very long and most importantly to fit this month’s theme, they have a matriarch in their herd. This is where one of the female elephants are in charge of the family group and will make the decisions and also protect the family.

When a bull elephant becomes a certain age, usually at approximately seven years they reach puberty and will then have to leave the family group and become solitary bulls mostly and can stay with other bulls from time to time. The females and the babies will form the herd and will only meet up with solitary bulls when it is mating season and when the females are in oestrus. Elephants have a very interesting and intricate family dynamic. Several females and their offspring will form the family unit and they will have a female leader called the matriarch. She and the other females will protect and raise their young together. When a group become too big, groups of up to 15 members are easily found, the group will split in two and another matriarch will be chosen for the other group. The matriarch will easily be a cousin relative of the first matriarch. When the group faces a challenger, they will form a line of fierce force with their little ones behind. They will easily charge whatever challenges they face or back off with the young ahead of them.

These matriarchs are huge animals and can easily be mistaken for male elephants. A matriarch and her herd are definitely not a sight in nature that you would like to take on lightly. One of the best places to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat here in the Western Cape is the National Addo Elephant Park. These herds have been found in these areas for ages. We recommend a visit while you are in the Western Cape.

While you are on your holiday, we recommend the following elephant related reading. The Elephant Whisperer is a very special book to me. It was written by Anthony Lawrence, a conservationist that has inspired me so. It is about a special herd of elephants that he saved in KwaZulu-Natal. Another special read for all the ladies this month is Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick. Her story is truly so inspiring and the amazing adventures that she and her husband find themselves on is so captivating and entertaining. It is also so emotional and really worth the read. We are loving elephants as the theme for this month as they are such amazing intelligent animals and can communicate at amazing lengths. An elephant’s stomach rumbling can be heard at up 6km away. A definite sign that we ladies are very intelligent and can communicate like pros. Hope you have a lovely time in Cape Time and see you next month for our look into our Spring flowers.

For more interesting reading on elephants follow the following link:

African Elephant Facts | Southern Africa Wildlife Guide (

South African National Parks – SANParks – Official Website – Accommodation, Activities, Prices, Reservations