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The History of the HA Family
Not all the families in Amboseli are big and successful. Some have struggled and failed and have become extinct; the BA, DA, GA, NA, NB, QA and TB families no longer exist because there were no females to continue. Other families hold on by a thread. The HA family seems destined to be tiny. Harvey and I first met the members on October 5, 1973. It was early morning and we found three elephants along the edge of the Enkongo Narok swamp. This small group consisted of a female and two calves. There were no other elephants in the immediate area. The female was large and handsome. The two calves were both females, one about three years old and the other just reaching puberty at approximately 11 years old. We were sure the younger calf was the big female's because she suckled from her; the older one was probably her daughter as well, but we could only guess that by their behavior.
It was unusual to find such a small family and we wondered what their history was. Of course, I could never know. However, we did get to know these animals very well over the next few years. The family did, indeed, only consist of those three animals. They were assigned the code letters HA and we named the adult female "Harriet" and her older daughter "Hannah"; a few years later the younger calf was named "Hilda". We saw them two more times in 1973, only once in 1974, but then in 1975 I saw them frequently; and once I set up my camp in the Park in September 1975 I found them several times each month from then on.
After a few dozen sightings a pattern began to emerge. They proved to be western elephants, that is, in the dry season they were almost always found on the western side of the Enkongo Narok swamp. I also discovered, that although they were a small family, they formed a bond group with two other family units that used the same area: the FAs and KAs. It was my impression that Harriet formed a close bond with the matriarch of the FAs, Filippa. Over the next years I was to see them perform intense greetings ceremonies when they met up. The greetings with the KAs were not quite as emotional, but there was obviously a bond there as well. Often these three families would move together as one group.
To read the whole history of the HAs open the attachment.