After a few days with very few elephants coming into Amboseli National Park due to the recent rainfall outside, larger numbers are back. This is good news for our playback experiments, since our methodology requires that we have to wait for quite a few days before we can expose the same elephants to new sounds.
During the morning we met the EB family, the group that we have studied for many years, and that has been made famous through 3 BBC productions. We always enjoy seeing our study elephants, but must admit we felt that the 65-year-old matriarch, Echo, looked thin and gaunt. Is the long drought taking its toll, or are her teeth so worn down that she cannot feed herself effectively? Or, perhaps, she has other health challenges that affect her condition? Her lack of energy was evident when Iris, matriarch of the IAIC family, tusked Echo’s calf, Esprit, knocking her off her feet and rolling her over, so that her legs were up in the air. She screamed loudly and Aunt Eliot ran over to the rescue, even seeing off the decades older, Iris. But, Echo, didn’t so much as lift her head – highly unusual for a mother elephant.
In between playbacks we encountered a rare interaction between a baby elephant and a young male – and felt privileged to see how patiently the big boy let the baby study his activities.
We probably won’t be online tomorrow, and so we take the opportunity to wish all you and the elephants of Amboseli a peaceful 2008!
Greetings, Joyce and Petter