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The History of the GB and GB2 Families
The GB family managed to confuse me completely the first time I ever saw them in 1975. I had recently set up a permanent camp in the Ol Tukai Orok woodlands in the center of the Park and had begun to observe the elephants on a full-time basis. During the previous three years I had worked part-time in Amboseli, mostly trying to build up a photographic recognition file for the population. By the time I moved to the camp I felt that I knew the families that used the central areas of the Park fairly well.
In the History of the BB family which I posted in the October newsletter and on our website (http://elephanttrust.org/node/738) I described how the confusion occurred. The BB family was one of the first families recorded. My colleague Harvey Croze and I first met and photographed the BBs in 1973. At that time the family numbered 12 and included two tusklesses (named Big Tuskless and Bette) and one left one-tusker (Belinda). These characteristics made them very easy to recognize. We referred to them as the “Double Tusklesses”.
It was in November, two months after I set up my camp that I realized there was something odd about the “Double Tusklesses”. They entered the glade to the north of the camp, took one look at the tents and fled in terror. I managed to count that there were 12 animals in the group including two tusklesses and a one-tusker, but their behavior was so unusual that I became suspicious.
It was in January 1976 that I solved the mystery. I came upon the “Double Tusklesses” again when they ran from my vehicle. This time I was able to go around them and approach cautiously from a different direction. I looked at them carefully with binoculars and yes there were two tuskless females and a one-tusked female but something wasn’t right. I looked at the ID photos of the BBs and their one-tusker, Belinda, was a left-one tusker. This was a right one-tusker. And the big tuskless had a hole in her left ear but not in quite the right place for Big Tuskless. She also didn’t have the ridiculously huge ears of the BBs’ Big Tuskless. I had to conclude that these were different individuals.
In the next month I saw these mirror-image Double Tusklesses several more times. They were still frightened of my vehicle but I managed to get some more photos of them. They were definitely an entirely different family, which I eventually called the GBs. I named the two tusklesses Gloria and Gladys and the right one-tusker Grace.
To read the full history of the GBs and GB2s open the attachment.