Samburu, Kenya. A pair of rare newborn elephant twins have survived a drought and beaten the odds thanks to the excellent skills of their mother, a wild African female elephant called Bora.
The miracle twins were first discovered in Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya in January. Their discovery made international headlines but there was concerns that the twins, which are rarely encountered in wild elephant herds, might not survive.
However at the weekend, the young calves and Bora were photographed alive and well by a team from Ewaso Lions in a remote area outside the reserve. The twins appear healthy and have even put on weight.
Save the Elephants’ Head of Field Operations, David Daballen says, “This is such incredible news. Despite the terrible drought, Bora has managed to feed the babies and keep them alive. Twin elephants rarely survive so we are absolutely delighted with this news. It just goes to show how resilient elephants are and what wonderful mothers they make. We look forward to monitoring their progress.”
The arrival of the twins in January made international headlines after guides from the luxury eco-camp, Elephant Watch Camp (EWC) spotted them in Samburu National Reserve. The guides at EWC are trained by Save the Elephants (STE) to recognize individual elephants and families in the park. They alerted researchers from STE who confirmed that the calves are a male and female, and were roughly one day old.
Save the Elephants has been studying and monitoring elephant behaviour and movement in Samburu for 28 years so knows Bora’s family – the Winds II, well. The twins are Bora’s second born. She also has an older calf which was born in 2017 and was seen in the vicinity of Bora and the twins in January.
The African elephant has the largest gestation period of any living mammal – at approximately 22 months and gives birth roughly every four years. The survival of twins, however, is rare as often the mothers don’t have enough milk to support two calves. In fact the birth of twins has only ever been recorded once before in Samburu in 2006. Sadly both calves died shortly after birth in Shaba National Reserve.
Save the Elephants has sent researchers to search for the twins in an effort to monitor the health and progress of the calves. As neither Bora nor the Winds II are fitted with tracking collars, finding them in the vast and remote terrain will be difficult.
However, it is hoped the family will return to the protected Samburu National Reserve once the rains come in April and STE will be able to collar one of the individual elephants in the Winds II. The tracking collar will enable researchers to monitor the herd’s every movement and in turn keep a closer watch on the welfare and progress of the twins.
Bora with her miracle twins who have survived three months in the wild in northern Kenya. Photo: Laikos Letupukwa / Ewaso Lions.
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