Written by Mike Unwin
They were not imagining it: two young bull elephants had entered the park from the contiguous Songimvelo Game Reserve on the South African side.
In 1992, hikers rounding a bend in Malolotja’s Nakomati Valley were surprised – and not a little alarmed – to find large steaming mounds of dung splattered across the trail. Stopping in their tracks, they soon heard the unmistakable crunch of feeding pachyderms from the forest ahead. They were not imagining it: two young bull elephants had entered the park from the contiguous Songimvelo Game Reserve on the South African side. These visitors found the lush riverine thickets along the Nkomati and lower Malolotja valleys so much to their liking that they took up residence, remaining in the area for at least ten years. Although they had an inevitable impact on the vegetation, they never showed any sign of aggression to people – and indeed generally showed little of themselves beyond tracks and droppings. The wandering duo has not been seen since 2008, and it is presumed they packed their trunks and returned to Songimvelo.