We were amazed and very surprised at the birth of an ELEPHANT CALF (Loxodonta Africana) in May, as we were definitely not expecting an addition to the herd! A “teenage” birth! The elephants seemed to have “disappeared” for days and then suddenly reappeared briefly, proudly seemingly to display the latest addition! During brief sightings, the rangers were very confused as to who the mother was and even thought that there may be more than one calf because the Matriarch & sub-Matriarch were also lactating and were seen suckling a little one. Once the herd felt a little more secure about the new arrival, they appeared more frequently in areas in which they were clearly visible and it became obvious that all three females were sharing the feeding and caring for the new baby!
Hoping for more insight on this seemingly rather unusual behaviour, I contacted an expert…Dr Michelle Henley…a world authority working under Save the Elephant Foundation’s umbrella. She’s monitored elephants for more than 20 years. Following is her extremely interesting response: “Young cows often lack the experience to look after their calves. This is especially true if they weren’t afforded the opportunity to be “allo-mothers” while growing up. The older cows in the herd generally allow the younger females to learn all the ropes related to caring for the calves so that by the time they grow up and reach sexual maturity, they know exactly how to cope.” This young cow apparently seems to have missed out on this rather important part of her education so the older more experienced cows…most probably her mother and aunt… are being of invaluable assistance.
A reassuring touch
Many wonderful photographic opportunities have cropped up as the herd browses, plays in the water and revels in the mud…the calf enjoying showing off his antics to an appreciative gallery of guests.
Mud games are such fun!