Surprise as baby elephant twins born in Kenya
An elephant at a conservancy in Kenya has given birth to twin calves, a very rare occurrence, according to zoologists, who say the last time it happened was in 2006.
The twins — one male and one female — were born to a mother named Bora.
They were first spotted by lucky tourist guides on a safari drive at the weekend in Samburu reserve in northern Kenya.
African elephants have the largest gestation period of any living mammal, carrying their young for nearly 22 months, and gives birth roughly every four years. According to Save the Elephants, twins are rarely encountered in elephant populations and form about only one percent of births.
However, elephant twins do not often fare so well. The last pair of twins born in Samburu, in 2006, failed to survive more than a few days.
“Quite often the mothers don’t have enough milk to support two calves,” Douglas-Hamilton said.
“The next few days will be touch-and-go for the new twins, but we all have our fingers crossed for their survival.”
There are an estimated 36,280 elephants in Kenya, according to the country’s first-ever national wildlife census conducted last year.
That figure represented a 12-percent increase in population numbers recorded in 2014 when killing for ivory was higher.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned last year that poaching and habitat destruction, particularly due to land conversion for agriculture, had had a devastating effect on elephant numbers in Africa as a whole.
The population of African savanna elephants plunged by at least 60 percent in the last half-century, prompting their reclassification as “endangered” in the latest update to the IUCN’s “Red List” of threatened species.