African Elephants Signal Marula Harvest Time
During the months of February/March each year hundreds of African Elephants descend on the marula trees of the Valley of Olifants in the Lowveld of Limpopo. This serves as a signal to local villagers that it is time to harvest the ripened fruit for their biggest global export, Amarula liqueur.
The marula fruit harvest is led mostly by the women of the region, which is rich in natural and cultural heritage and includes 25 local villages, as well as game farms, wildlife sanctuaries and tribal land, stretching into the Kruger National Park.
This year, elephant families trekked here to repeat their annual feast of fruit-laden marula trees, some of which reach up to nine meters in height.
It is a spectacular sight that will not endure if we fail to conserve these majestic creatures. Today only about 350 000 African Elephants still survive in the wild. Their numbers are dwindling year on year due to illegal poaching that is claiming on average 96 elephant lives per day. But we are fighting back.
When the elephants have had their fill, the locals collect the fallen marula fruit to sell to the Amarula plant in Phalaborwa, with the blessing of the local tribal chiefs.
A select few also assist with the meticulous fruit sorting, which is normally accompanied by the singing of traditional songs. This process has been the practice