A mating and a fight


Laura Keating, International Intern

Date Published

Today I witnessed my first elephant mating. A young female from the Zodiacs family was in estrus. Somehow all the males in the area knew it, and had come for a piece of the action – there were at least 10 bulls in the immediate vicinity alone.

The mating was not quite as I had imagined – certainly no romance involved. In fact, it was more like a rape. Each time it started out with the young female running at full speed, chased by a male. He would eventually catch up, and mount her from behind. Being so young, she was small. I was certain she would collapse under all that weight. But somehow she managed to endure it.

The oldest and biggest bull of today’s action was Yeagar. He was in musth, and was exhibiting mate-guarding behavior. He probably mated with the female before we arrived. For a musth bull, he was surprisingly relaxed. He would let other males mate with her briefly, before charging forward and ultimately chasing them off. In total we saw four matings by four different males.

When they were not trying to mate with the female, the other bulls in the area were busy establishing their dominance. We happened to witness a fight between Henrik and Dodson. The latter is bigger and appeared to be winning for most of the fight, but after the final throws Henrik appeared to ultimately win as Dodson backed down. Henrik’s last ‘move’ was to put his two front feet up on the trunk of a tree, making him look taller. We later speculated if this perhaps played a role in Dodson’s departure.

All in all, it was a very exciting and intense morning!