Game ranger Bradley Sheldon laughs with delight as a dozen elephants swing past his vehicle, stretching out their trunks to smell us. He oozes as much excitement as the two Brazilian honeymooners on their first trip to Africa, even though he does this for a living. Game drives in Thornybush Private Nature Reserve near Hoedspruit never used to be like this, Sheldon says. There were only 62 elephants in the reserve 18 months ago. The last census recorded a five-fold increase to 350, so close encounters are practically guaranteed. Last March Thornybush landowners ripped out a 27km fence that separated their 14,500ha from Timbavati Game Reserve, which has open borders with the Kruger National Park. Now animals can migrate from the Kruger into Thornybush, and they’re doing so en masse. "Now there are bulls all over the show, big tuskers coming from the Kruger," Sheldon says. Lions have also discovered this new hunting ground. "The lion activity has changed with males coming and going so ...

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