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2011 Newborn Elephant Calf
I am proud to announce that we have finally recorded our first successful Elephant birth of 2011 after a stillbirth that was witnessed by Katito and Graeme in a previous post. Our records show the last birth dates back seven months ago. This high decline in birth rate correlates with the 2009 drought when few female elephants came into estrus. Elephant breeding patterns are mostly determined by the availability of food, and they may conceive in response to a good rainfall period, resulting in an increased birth number 21 – 23 months later.
Elephant birth may take place wherever a mother finds herself, but typically occurs in the company of other family members and most often at night. The newborn male is the latest addition to the FA family by Freya and we estimated the calf to be four days old. It is the second calf by the 23-years-old female with a birth interval of 6 years. Birth interval ranges from 2.9-9.1 years and is considerably shortened by the death of the previous calf.
The FA family now totals to 13 members, headed by Fenella, a 43 years old Matriarch. The presence of his mother and family, four years of lactation – if conditions are favorable – plus many more years of rearing and protection will determine the young calf's survival to adulthood.