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Greetings from Amboseli. The IFAW blog is now live - click here for the story. Here are some images to accompany the story, which is mainly about how elephants interact with us. I've also included some pictures of them interacting with each other, which is after all what the study is really about!
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.
Recently Cynthia posted a story about seeing Paolo after eight years, and how much males can grow in that time. Once males become independent of their families, they often disappear for a while, which causes us problems when they come back all grown up. We know they must belong to Amboseli families because they're so relaxed with our vehicles, but we have to go back to old photographs to work out who they are.
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.
This research suggests older female elephants make wiser leaders for their families, i believe the elephant in the video clip is the late Echo.
I have been spending the last month finding my feet and starting the painstaking process of learning to identify the Amboseli elephants, with a lot of help from Norah, Katito and the rest of the ATE team. It's great fun, and I love feeling I'm starting to make progress, especially with the families I'm studying.
Here's a list of the ATE Newsletters published so far. In case you want to see one you missed, click on one of the links below.
I was out this morning catching up with the elephants when I came upon a gorgeous big bull. At first I didn't know who it was but then I looked through the ID book and found Paolo. He has grown tremendously and he has developed the most spectacular tusks. Born in November 1979, Paolo will turn 32 this year. He will be one of the most magnificent bulls ever if he is allowed to live until he is 50 or more.
The two photos show the difference in eight years. The one was taken in January 2003 when he was 23; the other was taken today while Paolo was having a good mudsplash.