Their thirst was obvious by the way their gait changed into a frantic run as the herd neared Nyamandhlovu pan in #Hwange national park. This is not unusual in the dry month of September as thousands of animals rely on the life giving water pumped into pans throughout the park.
Chris was lucky enough to participate in the Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe annual game count in Hwange National Park this September. Every year since 1972 hundreds of volunteers converge on the park and are assigned to watch a specific water hole for 24 hours and count everything they see. Its hot, you are confined to your car, its tiring, but the rewards are worth the effort, both for the experiences gleaned by the counters as well as the wealth of information that is recorded for the Parks' authorities.
The Hwange game count is the longest continual game census in Southern Africa and because of this, trends in animal numbers can be extrapolated and studied. As with most large scale surveys its not 100% accurate but generally very consistent, however it gets quite tricky to definitely say how many elephants there are in the park. Some estimates put the population between 30-35 000 while the figures from the 2014 game count results suggest around 23 000.
The count wouldn't be possible without the massive efforts of WEZ Matabeleland who organises the count as well as Friends of Hwange Trust.
Shot at Nyamadhlovu Pan, Hwange National Park, Nikon D610 with Nikkor 70-200 F2.8 ISO 640 1/160 @ F4.5