We received this heartening news from Pongola Game Reserve yesterday and thought you would enjoy it
Pongola Game Reserve, a privately-owned big-four game reserve in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, today reported the birth of African elephant twins. Scientific evidence suggests that there is less that one percent prevalence rate of elephants twinning and even less of a chance that both twins survive into adulthood, making the birth of these young elephant twins an incredibly rare natural occurrence.
Elephant specialist, Dr. Ian Whyte, the retired Projects Manager: Large Herbivores: Dept. of Scientific Services at the National Parks Board, Kruger National Park says, “Though a few cases of twinning have been reported in the Kruger National Park, an examination of the reproductive tracts of over 1200 adult cows culled in the Kruger National Park during population control operations did not yield a single case of twins. An earlier study published by Smuts in 1975 found two sets of twins among 353 embryos examined which is a 0.5% prevalence.”
The yet unnamed twins were born to a 31 year old elephant cow called Curve, so named for the curve of one of her tusks. She birthed three offspring before delivering the twins, all of which were male. Paternity of the twins points to Ingani, a 44 year old elephant bull that deceased slightly more than a year ago. The sex of the twins remains unconfirmed as Curve is given enough space and a fighting chance to beat the mortality odds for the twins.
Confirms Dr. Ian Whyte, “This is the best approach. Mortality of one of the twins usually occurs as the increasing demand for milk by two calves cannot be met by the mother and the less dominant of the two calves usually cannot gain access to its share. One rather famous Matriarch in Kruger dubbed MaMerle produced a set of twins in 2002, both of which survived to post weaning age, and she then produced a second set in 2006, both of which had survived to more than a year old when she was last seen. Curve needs a stress free environment to beat the odds.”
Well established population stabilising measures for the region’s elephant are in place; vasectomies as well as Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to stabilise the population since August 2008. Against these odds, the elephant twins were safely birthed, surely a positive sign for long and healthy lives.