After a gestation period of 660 days, two of the resident elephants cows gave birth to two playful calves on Gondwana Gama Reserve. The birth of the first calf on Christmas Day was celebrated by the mother through trumpeting and parading her new calf in front of Kwena lodge and then they disappeared for a few weeks into the 11 000 hectare Fynbos Reserve. Another calf was born just this May also with much excitement. Elephants much like people celebrate the birth of young and join together in community to be present. After the maternal announcement of the second addition to the family herd, the new mother and calf separated from the other pair to strengthen their bond, but reunited with the herd after a short time.
Allomothering, is when all the females in the herd help to protect and look after the young calves which is common in elephants. However, it is very rare that elephants communal suckle, where the calves can drink off any lactating female in the herd as it is usually not tolerated. We have witnessed this communal milk sucking with Gondwana’s herd which is fascinating and indicates the pronounced relationship and connection in the herd.
Elephants are ecological engineers who have the ability to structure and shape their environments around them. Elephants have always been an important species in the ecology of the Southern Cape and this why it was important to reintroduce a small nucleus population into an area such as Gondwana that they historicallyoccupied. Through ivory poaching and conflict with humans, the last of the inhabitant elephant herds were shot out in the 1700s with a tiny relic population that hid from the hunters rifles in the darkness of the Southern Cape Forests.We hope this growing herd can play a role in bringing wild elephant back to the Southern Cape.