There seems to be a baby boom within the elephant population of Mashatu Game Reserve. Visitors to our photographic hides have been treated to a cuteness overload in the last few weeks.
Spending so much time at the hides, I get to see these different elephant family groups frequently and have started to recognize individuals. The thing that strikes me the most, is the different personalities of the young ones, shining through. Some will run straight to the water and jump in without a care in the world, where others stay close to the protection of the older herd members, only tentatively going near the water.
Much of an elephant herd’s life revolves around guarding, rearing and imparting survival skills to the young herd members. Baby elephants are mothered intensely for the first two years of their life but, as with humans, learning continues for many years after that.
Young bulls leave the herd at about 12-14 years of age. They may live alone or in small bachelor groups. An older bull will often be accompanied by a group of these younger bulls, referred to as Askaris. This older bull will share survival and social skills with these young Askaris.
Probably one of the cutest things we get to see, is some of the young elephants chasing everything at the water. You just know that one day these are going to grow up into 5 ton bulls with loads of attitude. The sweet shy little elephant may one day grow up to be the matriarch of her very own herd.
Images & text by Janet Kleyn