Sleepy elephant takes nap while resting head against tree trunk
While leading safaris in the African wild for many years, one of the most common questions I get from safari goers is ‘how do elephants sleep’? There is no one simple answer to this question and this video shows one of the many awkward forms and positions these giants can get into, just to get a little sleep.
Being the largest land mammals on the planet, the African elephant is behaviorally adapted and physically structured in many incredible ways to survive in the African wild with such a large body. First things first, the African elephant’s main priority is food, and lots of it. For this reason, the priority of eating outweighs the priority of sleep by far. Elephants feed around twenty out of twenty-four hours a day and interestingly enough are feeding more active during the night than the day. This makes one think then when do elephants actually sleep?
It was during the middle of the day on a safari in the Kruger National Park when we came across one large lone elephant bull standing in the shade of a big tree. It was extremely hot and we could see the old elephant bull was looking fairly tired, not feeding or doing much, just standing under the tree. The next moment the elephant bull slowly proceeded to rest his head against the trunk of the tree. It looked like the bull elephant was getting really comfortable and amazingly started dosing off, falling into a shallow sleep every now and then. It was incredible to sit and watch this large creature being happy to awkwardly rest his head against the tree trunk to take a nap.
This old elephant bull was a great example of one of the many ways larger elephants can rest or sleep. From experience, majority of sleeping and resting happens during the heat of the day. All the hours of sleeping an elephant achieves does not happen all in one. Resting and sleeping will happen in short on and off periods. Where smaller elephants do actually lie down to sleep, larger elephants always have to improvise a way to lean their bodies against some sort of structure such as a tree or an embankment.