October: Elephant Moon

The largest land mammal on Earth is the African elephant. We have the privilege to still see appreciable numbers of these pachyderms in our game parks. The elephant is also the largest of the Big Five game animals. Bulls average about 4 metres at the shoulder and weigh up to 7,000 kg.

Elephants once roamed freely over most of South Africa but today South Africans and visitors can only see elephants in the larger game parks.

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) has been hunted down to dangerously low levels in many areas in Africa for its tusks which are worth a fortune in the illicit ivory trade. It is estimated that poachers kill about 20 000 elephants each year.

Conservation efforts in South Africa have resulted in there being 160 times more elephants in South Africa today than there were in the 1920’s. As humans and cultivated fields encroach more and more on the areas where elephants roam, the confrontation between these magnificent animals and humans becomes greater and greater.

Unfortunately the huge increase in numbers is also causing serious environmental problems in the reserves where the veldt is being decimated by the elephants. Methods of controlling the numbers by culling or exporting them to countries such as China are controversial and have raised the ire of conservationists world-wide. A programme of darting the females and injecting a contraceptive has been running for a while and appears to be very effective in the trial areas.

The October Elephant Moon occurs only twice during the period 2020–2050.

The first Full Moon in October is the Whale Moon.

Date of Elephant Moon (2020–2050)

2020 Oct 31, 16:48

2039 Oct 31, 00:36

Further reading




Heritage Full Moons in South Africa

MonthFirst Full MoonSecond Full Moon
JanuaryMantis MoonLeopard Moon
FebruaryDassie Moon——
MarchHarvest MoonOchre Moon
AprilDiamond MoonGold Moon
MayFrost MoonFire Moon
JuneSisters MoonHoney Moon
JulyMeerkat MoonProtea Moon
AugustPeace MoonDusty Moon
SeptemberSpring MoonBlue Crane Moon
OctoberWhale MoonElephant Moon
NovemberMilk MoonWool Moon
DecemberSpringbok MoonEland Moon

Protecting South Africa’s astronomical heritage