“Young royalty is protected behind pillars and trunks. Its world is guarded and small, but its future is huge”- Heinrich van den Berg
For me there are no better words than Heinrich van den Berg’s to describe the scene we witnessed recently of a newborn elephant attempting to take its first steps amidst the melee of its herd. We watched the elephants perform the dance of birth where they pirouetted in tight circles around themselves and waltzed around each other to the music of their rumbling.
As is typical of elephants, there was great ceremony to the occasion and the herd were there to support the mother after her 22 month long pregnancy. As they jostled around the baby I kept stressing that it was about to be trampled, but their movements were gentle and controlled, and the baby bounced amongst them on new-found feet. They helped the mother to bury the afterbirth and spent a large amount of time dust bathing themselves and the baby, possibly to rid it of scent and thus prevent predators from smelling this vulnerable new creature. They also touched their trunks to it tenderly, taking turns to greet the new member of the family, all the while rumbling in the deeply comforting way that speaks to elephants and humans alike.
The video below shows how the elephants help to lift the baby to its feet, whilst barricading it from the dangers of the outside world. It is amazing to think that this tiny, defenceless creature will one day be one of Africa’s giants- roaming this beautiful wilderness. It was an incredibly touching scene to witness and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Due to the relaxed nature of the elephants we see here on Londolozi, this is not the first time something like this has been seen. A few years ago, one of our rangers managed to get video footage of a female elephant actually giving birth, whilst others have even been privileged enough to watch a birth from the comfort of their room in camp.
We have also seen strange herd make ups that suggests the female could have given birth to twins. This is incredibly rare and only been recorded a few times in the wild. Have you ever seen an elephant birth or known of an elephant that gave birth to twins? We’d love to hear about your thoughts or experiences.