Addo is home to one of the densest African Elephant populations on earth, roughly 550 of them. They once roamed the entire continent. By 1979 there were only 1.3 million African elephants left, and in 1989 they were added to the international list of the most endangered species, with only sixteen left in the Greater Addo area.
The Elephants play a key role in the environment – pulling down trees, breaking up bushes, and digging waterholes and trails. Their droppings are particularly important as baboons and birds pick them over for undigested seeds and nuts, and the dung beetle (the flightless dung beetle is only found in Addo) use them in which to reproduce.
More recently the Addo Elephant National Park has expanded to become the only park in the world to lay claim to Africa’s ‘Big 7’ – elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark.
It has done this by expanding along the coast from the Sundays River mouth towards Alexandria, and by adding an offshore marine reserve that includes St Croix Island and Bird Island, both essential breeding grounds for penguins and gannets. St Croix has the largest African penguin colony in the world.
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