'Chikwenya Herd' to Retire..


Pilanesberg Elephant Back Safaris announces the closure of its commercial operations of Elephant Back Safaris & Elephant Interactions, based at Sun City Resort, Pilanesberg from the end of August 2014.

As part of a process started a long time ago, we are retiring our Elephants and will concentrate on rehabilitating them back into a wild environment after a working life of almost 20 years, the last 12 being at Sun City.

For those of us who have been privileged enough to have been part of the 'Pilanesberg Elephant Back Safari Experience', whether it be briefly meeting the individual members of this special herd at the 'Elephant Wallow', or spending endless hours with the herd being accepted as an integral part of their family as fostered mentors, one thing is for sure - we are all so much richer for this wonderful privilege.

Sapi, Mana, Michael, Sharu, Chikwenya, together with her siblings, Tidimalo & Ngwedi have been under our care and guidance for the past 20 years. Years of nurturing and dedication devoted to the 'Chikwenya herd' by their handling team have reaped the rewards resulting in a unique relationship based on trust and mutual respect between man and elephant.

From the end of August 2014 Pilanesberg Elephant Back Safaris, in line with the long term management vision for their fostered elephants have secured a new future for this special herd with plans to re-interate them fully back into the wild where they will be supported in a venture to live out their lives as wild elephants.

The first stage in the rehabilitation process will be to remove the elephants from any commercial interaction whilst they prepare for a life which will ultimately have minimal human interference. Their translocation to a new property will be fully supported and monitored by their long-standing handlers who have spent the best part of 14 - 20 years with them to minimise stress associated with translocation and to ensure a desired positive outcome for each member of the herd.

We recognise and salute the contribution these elephants have made to our lives and the lives of countless others and look forward to watching these elephants living out the remainder of their lives as wild elephants over the years to come.

Yours sincerely

Brett Mitchell
Manager - Pilanesberg Elephant Back Safaris

Home The Elephant
Photo Gallery Contact Us


Nestled comfortably at the foothills of the ancient Pilanesberg mountains lies the "Elephant Wallow", a special place in the sun where Man and the African Elephant finds their lives closely intertwined....
Join CHIKWENYA, MANA, SHARU, MICHAEL, TIDIMALO and NGWEDI for an exhilarating journey along ancient game trails. Seated comfortably on the back's of Nature's True "King of the beasts," experience an age-old African tradition whilst silently exploring the resident wildlife, unnoticed, the elephants themselves your hosts for the duration of your unique journey...

Pilanesberg Elephant Back Safaris offers much more than a unique game viewing experience, but a clear insight into the make-up of these amazing animals. Seated comfortably on your elephants back reflect quietly on their magnificence and their role across our African Continent. Your experienced guide is willing and eager to share his wealth of information and the resident game, oblivious to your presence offer wonderful close up photographic opportunities ..

Wildlife you are likely to encounter along these ancient game trails include Rhino, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Zebra and many other wildlife residents.

The Spirit of these Great Creatures will Never leave you...

A visit to the 'Elephant Wallow' offers much more than a unique game-viewing experience
but also a close insight into the wonders of Nature's true "King of the Beasts",
the African Elephant. Based on the principle of mutual trust and
respect a unique bond between man and elephant can be witnessed here,
the elephant's themselves ambassadors to their kind who willingly share your elephant
experience. Though small in the big picture of the African Elephant's plight, this experience
goes a long way in closing the gap between man and elephant.

"The Greatness of a nation and it's moral progress can be judged by the way it's animals are treated.." Mahatma Ghandi

"An Age Old Concept; A brand New Adventure"

Man's relationship with elephants in Africa is a colourful and fascinating story, dating back as far as 218 BC where elephants were captured and trained by the Carthaginians and used as vehicles of war. With their defeat, the tradition of working elephants all but died out until the early 20th century when King Leopold of the Belgian Congo set out to realise his dream of training the African Elephant. An elephant training school was set up in
Garamba, in the heart of the Congo and for a while thrived. Today the camp still exists but the ravages of war and unrest leaves only a few elephants as a legacy to this ancient tradition of the past.
More recently this relationship has appeared in Southern Africa in the form of elephant-back safaris, a novel and popular tourist initiative. Culling operations in Zimbabwe in the 70's and 80's produced a number of elephant orphans being sold to private farmers in the attempt to generate much needed funds for National Parks. It was through these culls that the Zimbabwean model for domesticated elephant was born, based on the overall vision that allows for domesticated elephants to pursue a lifestyle which is similar to wild elephants and at the same time, through tourism, play a vital role in conservation through education. This unique relationship between man and elephant is based on the utilisation of positive reinforcement training principles and founded on trust and mutual respect between man and animal. A far cry from the training methods of the past...
A visit to Pilanesberg Elephant-Back Safaris is testimony to the success of this concept in a modern day Africa.

An Age-Old Concept; A brand NEW Adventure.....