The ellies of Knysna – the mystery of the reality MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

The Mysterious Elephants of Knysna

Did you know that the Knysna Forests are home to the most southern population of elephants in Africa? And what makes them even more extraordinary is that they are the only elephants in the country that roam freely, without any fences to hold them back.

Let me tell you about my adventure yesterday. I had the pleasure of going on a walk with Gerrit Slinger, a field ranger who works in the Goudveld area of the forests. Goudveld is located about thirty kilometers behind Knysna, nestled in the magnificent Outeniqua mountains. This area not only has beautiful indigenous forests but also commercial pine plantations and vast stretches of fynbos.

So, Gerrit and I were trekking down this super steep gorge to get to the Homtini River. The river was really moving because of all the rain we’ve had lately. Gerrit started telling me this wild story about how he came face to face with an elephant back in February. Can you imagine that? A real, live elephant charging at you!

But that got me thinking, how many elephants are left around here? Gerrit and the other rangers think there are at least three. They’ve even spotted a baby elephant, so there must be a mother out there somewhere. But you know what? There could be even more than that! This researcher named Gareth Patterson believes there might be as many as nine elephants roaming around. He did some fancy DNA testing and everything. But honestly, nobody really knows for sure. It’s all just a guessing game. A couple of hikers actually saw two elephants while they were hiking the Outeniqua Hiking Trail in May. Pretty cool, huh? You can read more about it in the article.

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The thing that matters most is that these incredible creatures are still thriving in this place and that we need to do everything we can to protect them and ensure their future. Luckily, SANParks has assigned a researcher to conduct a thorough investigation on the elephants, so it will be fascinating to see what they discover.

The forest in this area is incredibly dense – it’s hard to see more than a few meters in either direction from the path. But the elephants don’t just stick to the forest. According to Patterson and the rangers, the dung they leave behind shows that they also dine on the restio grass that grows in the fynbos.

We reached a massive cave on the banks of the Homtini river and spotted tracks from a leopard. “A mother and her cub often come here,” Gerrit told us. The setting was absolutely breathtaking, and it’s no wonder that Dalene Matthee found inspiration from this place for her novel, Circles in a Forest.

Gerrit shared some fascinating information about elephants with me. He explained that they are incredible creatures known for their ability to travel long distances. For instance, they can walk from here to Diepwalle and back in just one day and night, covering a total distance of about 30 kilometers.

It’s quite astonishing to think about the history of the indigenous forest in this area. It used to cover a massive 250,000 hectares of land. Unfortunately, due to the timber industry’s high demand during the 18th and 19th centuries, only 65,000 hectares of this forest remain today. The rest of the forest was cut down to support South Africa’s growing colonial development.

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It’s interesting to know that even today, the indigenous forests are still being harvested. Every now and then, the trees that are about to die from old age or disease are carefully cut down and sold at an auction to wood merchants. These merchants then sell the wood to furniture manufacturers. I’m not completely sold on this idea yet, but the folks at SANParks assure me that it’s done in a carefully managed way. They say it helps provide a sustainable income to the area, which I think is great. After all, conservation in Africa won’t survive if it doesn’t benefit the local communities.

If you’re interested in buying furniture made from indigenous timber, you should definitely check out the Timber Village on Welbedacht Avenue in Knysna. It’s a fantastic place to see some stunning wood and furniture.

I’m currently staying at the Knysna Tree Top Chalet located in the Harkerville area of the forest. Let me tell you, it’s absolutely incredible. This luxurious cabin is raised on stilts, nestled amongst the trees, and it’s equipped with everything you need for a fantastic self-catering vacation.

Author Dalene Matthee beautifully captures the essence and magic of the forest when she says, “Those who have experienced the forest in all its beauty return home with a sense of enrichment. They understand that if we were to destroy the last of these precious forests, we would lose some of our inner peace, freedom, and joy forever. The enchantment of the rainforest goes beyond its physical existence and touches the human soul in inexplicable ways that science cannot explain.”

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The Mysterious Elephants of Knysna

Did you know that the Knysna Forests are home to the most southern population of elephants in Africa? And what makes them even more extraordinary is that they are the only elephants in the country that roam freely, without any fences to hold them back.

Let me tell you about my adventure yesterday. I had the pleasure of going on a walk with Gerrit Slinger, a field ranger who works in the Goudveld area of the forests. Goudveld is located about thirty kilometers behind Knysna, nestled in the magnificent Outeniqua mountains. This area not only has beautiful indigenous forests but also commercial pine plantations and vast stretches of fynbos.

So, Gerrit and I were trekking down this super steep gorge to get to the Homtini River. The river was really moving because of all the rain we’ve had lately. Gerrit started telling me this wild story about how he came face to face with an elephant back in February. Can you imagine that? A real, live elephant charging at you!

But that got me thinking, how many elephants are left around here? Gerrit and the other rangers think there are at least three. They’ve even spotted a baby elephant, so there must be a mother out there somewhere. But you know what? There could be even more than that! This researcher named Gareth Patterson believes there might be as many as nine elephants roaming around. He did some fancy DNA testing and everything. But honestly, nobody really knows for sure. It’s all just a guessing game. A couple of hikers actually saw two elephants while they were hiking the Outeniqua Hiking Trail in May. Pretty cool, huh? You can read more about it in the article.

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The thing that matters most is that these incredible creatures are still thriving in this place and that we need to do everything we can to protect them and ensure their future. Luckily, SANParks has assigned a researcher to conduct a thorough investigation on the elephants, so it will be fascinating to see what they discover.

The forest in this area is incredibly dense – it’s hard to see more than a few meters in either direction from the path. But the elephants don’t just stick to the forest. According to Patterson and the rangers, the dung they leave behind shows that they also dine on the restio grass that grows in the fynbos.

We reached a massive cave on the banks of the Homtini river and spotted tracks from a leopard. “A mother and her cub often come here,” Gerrit told us. The setting was absolutely breathtaking, and it’s no wonder that Dalene Matthee found inspiration from this place for her novel, Circles in a Forest.

Gerrit shared some fascinating information about elephants with me. He explained that they are incredible creatures known for their ability to travel long distances. For instance, they can walk from here to Diepwalle and back in just one day and night, covering a total distance of about 30 kilometers.

It’s quite astonishing to think about the history of the indigenous forest in this area. It used to cover a massive 250,000 hectares of land. Unfortunately, due to the timber industry’s high demand during the 18th and 19th centuries, only 65,000 hectares of this forest remain today. The rest of the forest was cut down to support South Africa’s growing colonial development.

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It’s interesting to know that even today, the indigenous forests are still being harvested. Every now and then, the trees that are about to die from old age or disease are carefully cut down and sold at an auction to wood merchants. These merchants then sell the wood to furniture manufacturers. I’m not completely sold on this idea yet, but the folks at SANParks assure me that it’s done in a carefully managed way. They say it helps provide a sustainable income to the area, which I think is great. After all, conservation in Africa won’t survive if it doesn’t benefit the local communities.

If you’re interested in buying furniture made from indigenous timber, you should definitely check out the Timber Village on Welbedacht Avenue in Knysna. It’s a fantastic place to see some stunning wood and furniture.

I’m currently staying at the Knysna Tree Top Chalet located in the Harkerville area of the forest. Let me tell you, it’s absolutely incredible. This luxurious cabin is raised on stilts, nestled amongst the trees, and it’s equipped with everything you need for a fantastic self-catering vacation.

Author Dalene Matthee beautifully captures the essence and magic of the forest when she says, “Those who have experienced the forest in all its beauty return home with a sense of enrichment. They understand that if we were to destroy the last of these precious forests, we would lose some of our inner peace, freedom, and joy forever. The enchantment of the rainforest goes beyond its physical existence and touches the human soul in inexplicable ways that science cannot explain.”

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