Apologies to everyone for the lack of news for the last months. Finding the time and the means to past recent happenings is not always easy. Accessibility to an internet connection is not always easy and sometimes is a matter of driving into the night to the nearby village when there are fewer people on line making it easier to post.
The bai continues to amaze and consume my life with the comings and goings of well known individuals.
Last week one of the trackers, Banda, told me he had come across an elephant placenta in an area adjacent to the path to the clearing where an elephant had given birth which by his estimations was probably the night before. In the afternoon when we went to the clearing together we the spot was easily identifiable. The elephants had literally flattened the area leaving little ground vegetation. My best guess was this was caused by the excitement of the elephants about the birth and this resulted in trampling the area as they closed in on the newborn and mother. The placenta was gone from where Banda had found it , probably eaten by elephants or other species such as giant forest hogs.
When we got to the clearing I looked the length of the clearing to see if there were any female elephants with newborns. In the southern part of the clearing there was a well known female, Theda with a tiny baby and when I looked closer with the spotting scope I detected a part of the umbilical cord still attached. Theda had been in the clearing on the previous day without a newborn so the spot in the forest was probably where she had given birth. The next couple of days Theda was still in the clearing and the calf appeared to be in good health.
Another well known female whom I call Miss L, also has a new calf. The L in her name being for Lonelyhearts because she was first identified alone and always has shown a bizarre interest in people especially ones that are on the ground. When she is observed in the clearing she will inevitably approach the observation platform to see if there is anyone there. On several occasions she has tried to steal objects. This was the case when a CNN reporter came to do a piece about 10 years ago and Miss L stole a boot. She headed off towards the southern end of the clearing dropping the boot after she had tried to chew on it. The boot was later recovered showing distinct molar prints.
Miss L was observed last week with a very new calf still very pink in color which is typical for very new babies. This is her second calf, her first calf disappeared shortly after birth probably because of Miss L’s poor mothering skills. She shows little interest in her calves who put a lot of energy into keeping up with her. Newborn number 2 howev
er is keeping up and suckling without too much reluctance.
Miss L other weird proclivity is her fascination with elephant carcasses. On two separate occasions she has been observed pulling on carcass limbs and moving the carcasses. I suspect she may have been orphaned as a young calf and perhaps is reenacting what happened to her earlier in life which might explain why she lacks mothering skills. Too many mysteries in elephants lives and I can only surmise why some of the individuals I observe exhibit abnormal behavior. Trauma surely plays a part of forming their character.