Apologies for not blogging for almost a year and keeping the situation at Dzanga updated.
The work at Dzanga continues on a regular basis and we are happy to report that since last January there have been no poaching incidences in or near the clearing. However outside the protected areas we know that elephants and other wildlife are always under threat due to uncontrolled hunting in areas where there is little or no surveillance. The main problem in this part of the world is commercial logging which attract people into areas which were formerly uninhabited. With people come arms and poaching.
The best news was our confirmation of twins which we had first observed in August of 2009. On December 2 of this year while at the clearing in the afternoon we witnessed the entrance of the mother, Habiba and her twin calves which we estimated to be about 18 months old. They had not been observed since their first sighting in August of 2009. With the second sighting of this group we have now confirmed the first observation of twins in a forest elephant population. Below is a photo of the entire group which includes Habiba in the front with the twins and her sisiter Juvena in the rear with her calf. This group is not seen very often in the clearing but have very distinct ear markings making them unmistakable when they are observed in the clearing.
The twins, a female and male, are doing well and their tusks have just erupted. The entire group of Habiba and Juvena now numbers seven individuals and are seen once or twice in the clearing per year.
Habiba and twins, Juvena and calf
Habiba and the Twins
The other news is that the Dzanga Clearing will be featured in an article in the magazine “Vanity Fair,” as part of an extensive article on elephants covering not only elephants in the wild and from several sites in Africa and Asia but also will feature information on the ivory trade. The article is planned for the April issue.
At present the dry season is here so the normal movement of big bulls into the bai is now underway. Several bulls have been observed in musth including Gibor who is one of the December-January musth bulls. He was guarding a female named Gryta during some evening observations but became distracted by someone vocalizing in the neighboring forest. He wandered off in search of this individual and during his absence two other adult bulls mated with the estrous female. Gibor returned to the clearing after about forty minutes looking for his female and found here at the other clearing with the second bull who mated her. He cleared out and Gibor resumed his guard. The next day in the first daylight hours Gibor and Gryta were still in the clearing when the photo below was taken.
Dzanga in the early morning: Gibor (musth) & Gryta and her calf