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The History of the KA Family
Harvey Croze and I started the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in September 1972 with the goal of studying one of the few relatively natural populations of elephants remaining in Africa. We chose Amboseli because the elephants were wandering freely over migration routes that they had been using for hundreds of years. They were not fenced or compressed into a protected area and they were not being heavily poached. Another good reason for choosing this population was that it was small enough (600-700) to get to know every animal individually. We wanted to study the life histories of individuals. Therefore, we set out to get recognition photos of first the adults and much later the calves as well.
We worked for the first three years on a part-time basis, both of us actually based in Nairobi with other jobs. On the field trips we would take photographs of all the adults we encountered and then try to figure out who belonged with whom. We knew that elephants lived in female-based families but we didn’t know how many families there were or who made up the families in Amboseli. As we began to work out the composition and felt relatively secure in our designation of a family we gave that family a letter of the alphabet and then named all the adult females with names starting with that letter. Thus the first family we recognized and got good photos of was the AA family.
It was early in the morning on October 5 that we found a group of 13 elephants moving toward the Enkongu Narok swamp. We soon discovered that many of them were adult males who were already independent from their families. After eliminating the males there appeared to be seven members in this family. The oldest and the one we determined was the matriarch was a big, old female we called Flop Ear, because one of her ears flopped over at the top. The other females with her were much younger. There were no small calves, the youngest being about three to four years old. We took as many photos as we could.
To read the full history of the KA family open the attachment.