Two Calves are Better than One
The birth of Lorato’s first calf, Motlotlo, at the end of January was the perfect start to 2018 for the Abu Herd, so you can imagine our joy and excitement when, a mere three months later, he was joined by a second new calf.
Early on the morning of April 27th, we were awakened by the sound of excited trumpeting coming from the elephant boma. The elephant handlers rushed there to check on the elephants, and a quick headcount by flashlight revealed that all the members of the Abu Herd were present and well.
Except the head count didn’t quite add up. There was Cathy, the wise and benevolent matriarch. Sirheni, the next oldest female, was there too. The elephant handlers could see Warona, and Naledi, and Lorato with Motlotlo. But who was this, next to Paseka? An even smaller elephant than Motlotlo – a newborn calf!
The elephant team had suspected that Paseka might be pregnant, but this birth still came as something of a surprise to us all, and a very happy surprise at that! In the circumstances, there was only one name that we could give this new arrival: Shamiso, which means ‘surprise’ in Setswana.
His birth marked only the latest chapter in Paseka’s remarkable life story. Almost exactly nine years earlier, she had been found in the generator room at Abu’s sister camp, Seba. After being attacked (probably by hyaena) she had been abandoned by her birth herd, and it seems that the rumbling of the generator was a source of comfort to a lonely, injured young elephant.
By the time she was discovered, it was too late to try and return her to her original herd, and so she was nursed back to health at Abu Camp and soon accepted by the other members of the Abu Herd.
This is the first time in many years that the Abu Herd has had two such young members, and it means that Abu Camp guests will have a unique opportunity to enjoy the antics of Motlotlo and Shamiso, who became fast friends as soon as they were introduced to each other.
It also gives us a rare opportunity to study how elephant calves grow and learn, and how they interact not just with older elephants, but also with their peers. Elephant Manager Wellington commented that “It’s wonderful to have two male calves at the same time, which is important for their social skills. They are already inseparable and really naughty!
With two young calves in the Abu Herd at the same time, it could be a case of double trouble, or double delight. Our feeling is that it will be both!