Safari-goers witnessed quite an unusual scene while trekking through Africa recently: wildlife frolicking through something of a winter wonderland.
An unusually heavy snowfall blanketed South Africa as the seasons transitioned from winter to spring.
Game reserve manager Kitty Viljoen captured images of giraffes, elephants, and antelope as they wandered through frosty terrain in the Sneeuberg Mountains on South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
Viljoen noted that it’s not terribly unusual to see snow in the region, but it had been almost a decade since it had snowed that heavily. It’s also rather astonishing that so much snow settled in the lower-lying savanna.
Animals generally know when the snow is coming and move to warmer areas, but those that don’t have to make the best of the situation.
“They try to find warm pockets and stay out of the wind, with smaller animals hiding under shrubs and down holes,” said Viljoen.
Large animals like elephants are normally able to withstand colder temperatures because they have a relatively small portion of exposed skin in relation to their overall body size.
Many captive animals residing in zoos and rescues in temperate regions actually enjoy being out in the snow, and will choose to leave their cozy winter houses to play.
“Elephants can take the cold, too. We’ll open up the barn doors and a lot of them will say, ‘I’ll go out, it doesn’t bother me.’ They have such a big body mass. It takes a lot to get them cold.”