Although twinning has been observed in elephant populations in Africa, we had never recorded this event at Dzanga. Throughout the years of the study we have recorded many births to known females but they have been single births. To date we have recorded more than 900 calves born to known females, a period of twenty years.
This all changed two weeks ago when just as we were packing up to leave after the daily observations when a female entered the clearing from the south. This entrance is a wide trail winding down a sandy hill. The female, Habiba, was accompanied by a very small calf which I estimated to be at least two months old. I was busy trying to identify the female with the spotting scope when the assistant Bounga pointed in the direction of Habiba and said that she had been accompanied by two calves. I then looked again through the scope, a distance of 400 meters and there were two calves of the same size and who looked alike. We waited five minutes to see if any other females were entering but Habiba was the only adult female in the vicinity of the calves. So we concluded that indeed the two calves were twins. We remained for another ten minutes before departing for camp and still no sign of another female.
Habiba is a female who is very distinct but not one of the regulars to frequent the clearing so verifying the twins may take time since we will await the next time she appears in the clearing to see if she again accompanied by the two calves. I was also able to determine that the twins were a female and a male.
Juvena and Habiba in April 2003