Ele Sunset: we hope note
In this issue...
The Miraculous Discovery and Rescue of Jasiri
Elephant Calves
The History of the UA Family
Chapter 9 Summary
Quick Links
HC with Maasai
Harvey Croze asks...

Care to Donate Now 

Harvey is a co-founder, ATE Trustee and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee

Don't Miss this Important Documentary
Apology to Elephants
On Earth Day, April 22, this powerful film will be shown on HBO at 7PM/6c. Narrated by Lily Tomlin, the film explores the beauty and intelligence of elephants, tells the troubling story of the exploitation of elephants in captivity, and makes a plea to save them in the wild. Both Cynthia Moss and Joyce Poole are interviewed in the film. It will also be available on HBO on Demand starting April 23. 
Amboseli Ecosystem Trust
Kili from Snipe River
As a result of the hard work of the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust, of which ATE's Soila Sayialel is very a active member, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has declared a moratorium on all new developments in the area for one year. We are very pleased with this directive because there had been worrying plans for hotels, flower farms, etc. to the east of the Park, blocking off the corridors for the wildlife.

Celebrating Elephants at the Oakland Zoo
Oakland Zoo Flier
The Oakland Zoo will be holding its annual Celebrating Elephants Events on May17 and May 25 with all money raised going to the AmboseliTrust for Elephants. This year the event will honor Pat Derby, the founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and co-founder Ed Stewart will be the speaker at the evening event on May 17. 
All Star Award
All Star Logo
Constant Contact, which is the company that we use for this newsletter, has chosen us for a prize. ATE's newsletter has shown "exemplary use" of the medium. We were one of only 10% of the 500,000 that use Constant Contact who were chosen. 

US Board Members
ATE Board Memberts
By good fortune, four members of the US board of ATE met up in Nairobi in April. Left to right are: Bruce Ludwig, Cynthia Moss, Don Young and Susannah Rouse. 
A Visit to the DSWT Orphanage

On April 17 part of the ATE team, including Vicki Fishlock and Mark Sowers who recently rescued Jasiri, visited the orphans who have come from Amboseli over the last year. There are presently four of "our" orphans at the baby nursery in Nairobi. 


We arrived in the late afternoon when the calves were coming in for the night. We were very pleased to see Faraja, Lemoyian and Quanza doing well. Jasiri is still struggling and it was very sad seeing him, especially remembering what a fat, healthy calf he had been.


Sometime in July 2012 Faraja's mother Fenella disappeared, suspected to have been poached. At seven months old it was obvious Faraja could not survive without her milk and so on August 21, we called in the DSWT team to take him to Nairobi. He was very thin when he arrived but adjusted well and soon began putting on weight. Faraja is one of three pale (probably albino) calves born during the recent baby boom in Amboseli.

Lemoyian was found trapped in a deep man-made well in October 9, 2012. We quickly got him out, but since there were no elephants anywhere in the vicinity we decided that he would have to be sent to the orphanage. He was only about three months old. With cuts and scrapes from struggling in the well, he developed infections, but he's fine now.


Quanza's story is horrific. Her mother, the wonderful matriarch Qumquat, and two of her sisters were brutally killed and their tusks hacked from their skulls on October 28, 2012. Quanza was found the next morning huddled next to her dead sister Qantina. In a dramatic rescue by ATE and KWS involving walking the calf several miles to where a vehicle could pick her up, she was eventually secured by the DSWT team and sent to Nairobi. At one year old and having only lost her mother the night before she was in good shape physically when she arrived. Psychologically, she still hasn't recovered from what happened to her and remains wary of people.


Jasiri is the son of the beautiful matriarch Jemima who was killed in December 2012. See his story in the main part of this issue of the newsletter. 


We came away from our visit once again grateful for the amazing work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Archive of Past Newsletters
Previous issues of the ATE newsletter can be found on our website: Archive 
Give a Gift that Lasts Forever
Include ATE in your bequest and estate planning. For a brochure on how to do that, contact Betsy Swart in our US office at: [email protected]
News from the Amboseli Trust for Elephants
March-April 2013

Well, the CITES (Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species) Conference of Parties has come and gone and elephants are still getting poached at an alarming rate. A lot of people were expecting definitive action, but I knew it wouldn't happen. There are 179 signatories to CITES, which makes it very political and very slow moving. There is a CITES ivory ban in place, but four southern African countries are not included in that ban. For them there is only a moratorium on sales. Speculators are waiting for that moratorium to be lifted.


What we need is a complete ban on ivory trade forever. Most important of all, we need domestic ivory sale bans and that's going to be very hard to get. Almost all nations (I'm proud to say, not Kenya, which has had a ban on all trade in wildlife products since 1977) allow ivory sales inside their borders. These sales of so-called pre-ban ivory, antique ivory and mammoth ivory are a perfect cover for illegal trade.


We are working very hard to lobby countries to institute domestic bans. China, of course, is number one on the list. We feel that they would look like conservation heroes by stopping the sale of ivory. It is only a tiny part of their huge economy. When the initial ban on ivory was passed in 1989, carving factories in China were closed and new jobs found for carvers. It could be done again.


Please help us advocate for a ban on all ivory sales. 

Cynthia Moss
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
The Miraculous Discovery and Rescue of Jasiri
by Vicki Fishlock
Jasiri at one month
Jasiri at three weeks old, fat and happy with his mother Jemima

Finding orphan elephants is a shocking experience. I was driving back to camp after a morning in the field when I spotted a forlorn calf standing alone near the road. My heart immediately sank. Nothing can prepare you for the distress of seeing them all alone, looking tiny and vulnerable, when they are usually found rambunctiously occupying the center of an adoring and protective family.


This calf looked thin and tired, but as another car rattled by on the corrugated road he raised his head, spread his ears and did a mock charge. His fighting spirit made me smile, even as I wondered where on earth he had come from. The closest elephants were four teenage bulls more than a mile away.


I was in for an even bigger shock when I got a good look at him. I saw blonde tail hair; this was Jemima's albino calf, surely? He was the right age and, when I looked closer, beneath a muddy crust I could see paleness along his belly and jawline. I could hardly believe that any young elephant could survive three months alone without his mother. We had been devastated to lose the beautiful Jemima and we assumed we had lost her special son too.


Jasiri at DSWT
Jasiri at DSTW; he's had a rough time but is slowly adjusting thanks to the attention of his carers

With the permission of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), we contacted the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) and they arrived within a couple of hours. That whole time I waited, anxious in case he tried to enter the tall elephant grass; I couldn't let that happen or we would lose him but I dreaded having to stress him out by chasing after him in the car. We were lucky; he slipped into the shade of a small thicket and dozed while I clock-watched and calculated how soon the team could arrive. He was so tucked inside the branches that I could have driven straight by and never known he was there. Trying to find a name for him helped pass the time and he soon became Jasiri, meaning "brave one" in Kiswahili.


The DSWT team arrived and with the help of KWS, skilfully and quickly caught a loudly protesting Jasiri. We got him straight into a vehicle and off to the airstrip and the waiting plane. He was not in great shape: he collapsed several times during the early days, needing dextrose drips to get him back on his feet. The psychological scars of his experience will take much longer to fade, but he is getting stronger and more used to the other orphans in Nairobi now. We hope his long road to recovery and freedom one day in Tsavo has truly begun.

Elephant Calves: Enduring Bonds and Consequences
by Phyllis Lee

With 246 elephant calves born in Amboseli in the last 18 months I thought our readers would be interested to know some of the results of our studies on calf development. I've asked Dr Phyllis Lee, Chairman of ATE's Scientific Advisory Committee and an expert on early development and growth, to write about the first year of life for elephant calves. CM                            

Mother, calf and allomothers


The most risky period of an elephant's natural lifespan is the first year of life. During this early period over 50% of calves born during extreme droughts die, while on average 15-16% of calves won't make it past their first birthday. Why do calves die when they are surrounded by attentive mothers and family members? 


Several things can happen. If a mother dies, calves are unable to feed themselves adequately even with the help of elder sisters. They are also at the mercy of large predators such a lions and hyenas, which use cooperative hunting techniques to distract the other family members and thus take out the small defenceless calves. And if the mother is young and inexperienced - a first time mother - her calves will be twice as likely to die. 


Despite suckling their calves over a three to five year period (average weaning age is 4.5 years), mothers find that their calves are quite an energetic burden. Thus, mothers are also at a higher risk of death during extreme droughts when they have to care for a young calf. Calves are born at a standing height of about 90 cm (35 in) high, and weigh 90-120 kg (200-260 lbs); by weaning males stand 160-170 cm high and females 150-160 cm. Male calves at weaning weigh in at about 750 kg while females weigh 600 kg. Sustaining this level of growth is especially hard for the youngest mothers who are themselves only one-third of the size of the larger females. This "problem" of growth is a key feature of an elephant's life, both early on and extending into their 40s, and affects both survival and how soon they start to reproduce. We have recently been able to demonstrate the consequences of slow early growth for the Amboseli elephants over their next 40 years. 


In addition, we have been able to illustrate features of the normal social development of elephant calves. We know that calves under two years old spend the majority of their time very close to their mothers, typically within trunk-touching distance. And if they are not close to their mothers, they are close to a young female caretaker or allomother. Young male calves become more independent as they age and while they return frequently to their mothers to demand milk, they will also explore and play with calves from nearby families. We can thus see how young male calves acquire confidence and develop independence from their families even before weaning, while the female calves embed themselves into their family units through their caretaking of close kin. These sexually distinct patterns of development appear to arise both from the behaviour of the calves themselves and from the encouragement and treatment of them by other family members - nature and nurture in action!

Learning while playing


We have also been able to describe the complex nature of elephant play, seen in both sexes, where calves take turns pushing, sparing, chasing or mounting each other and where larger, older calves appear to take the strength and abilities of a younger partner into account and thus play at a level appropriate for the least able, rather than the strongest. As with so many elements of elephant sociality, cooperation rather than a struggle for dominance marks out their interactions and engagement with each other. Much remains to be discovered from this fascinating and unrivalled study tracing the fate of cohorts of calves over their lifespan.



The History of the UA Family
Beautiful Ulla was matriarch of the UAs for 34 years

I first met the UA family in October 1973. I was still only working part-time in Amboseli at the time, and for a year I had been stealing time away from other work in Nairobi to drive down to the Park and begin to get to know the elephants. The first time I saw the family, I was struck by a big, beautiful matriarch who was in a large group of almost 100 elephants. They were at the edge of Ol Tukai Orok, the palm woodlands where I would eventually establish the elephant research camp. I took photos of this female and others. I estimated the big female to be about 40 years old.


Two months later I found the same beautiful female with a tiny calf in a small group of seven elephants south of the Longinye swamp. As well as the new calf, a female in her thirties and a much younger female of about nine years old accompanied her.  There were also three male calves with the family around four, six and eight years old. It seemed that the four and eight year olds were the sons of the big female but I did not know where the six-year-old male fit in. The family appeared to include the following:



Big female                        about 40 years old

Her new calf                 less than 2 months old

Male calf                      about four years old

Sub-adult male              about 8-10 years old

     Second adult female            about 30 years old

     Sub-adult female                about nine years old

     Male calf                           about six years old

To read the whole history of the UA family Click Here.
Amboseli Book Chapter Summary 9: Behavioral Contexts of Elephant Acoustic Communication by Joyce H. Poole 

The fission-fusion society of elephants is built upon a complex network of social relationships within and between families, bond groups, and clans and between individual males. Added to this multi-layered social network are fleeting interactions and temporary consortships that form between reproductively active males and cycling females. This elaborate system of associations, partnerships, coalitions and enduring relationships is in part established, mediated and maintained via an intricate suite of acoustic signals. The survival of females and their offspring depends upon the cohesion and co-ordination of the family, and upon their ability to compete with other groups for access to scarce resources. Consequently, most calls produced by female and juvenile elephants give emphasis to the importance of the social unit. Family members call to reinforce bonds between relatives and associates, to care for calves, to reconcile differences between 'friends', to defend close associates, to form coalitions against aggressors and predators, to coordinate movements and to keep in contact with one another over long distances. Adult male elephants lead relatively more independent lives than do females, where reproductive success and survival depend upon an individual's ability to detect sounds made by others; males tend to use calls to advertize their sexual state, identity and rank, but like females they also use calls to maintain friendships and coordinate movement.
Little Greeting - Grace
Grace, matriarch of the GB family, emits a "Little Greeting" as she approaches


Elephants produce many different call types. Most of these, including rumbles, revs, roars (with subtypes noisy, tonal, and mixed), cries, barks, grunts, and husky-cries, originate in the larynx, while others, such as trumpets, nasal trumpets and snorts, are produced by the elephant blowing air forcefully through the trunk. Within each of these call types there is enormous variability in call characteristics such as, duration, power, tonality and frequency modulation, and these different features are typically associated with particular behavioral contexts.


Elephants may also combine different call types to form more complex sounds, such as cry-rumble, rumble-roar-rumble, snort rumble, trumpet-rumble, etc. These amalgamated calls are most likely to be produced when elephants are disturbed or excited.


Elephant acoustic communication is not hard-wired and they have an unusually flexible vocal tract. Elephants are remarkable among mammals in that they are capable of vocal learning, and may produce imitated (mimicking machines, other animals and even human speech) or idiosyncratic sounds, such as croaking and squelching.


Within specific call types particular forms are associated with certain well-defined behaviors. In chapter 9 I describe calls associated with the contexts of group defense, sexual behavior, mother-offspring, conflict, social integration, logistics, and play and I subdivide these general contexts into more narrow contexts. For example, within the general context, mother-offspring, I describe calls that occur during the four narrower contexts of begging, eliciting care or support, receiving comfort, and reassuring and comforting calves. Between and within each of these categories are different kinds of rumbles, trumpets, roars, etc that are specific to these behavioral contexts. As a further example, within the general context of logistical calls, there are rumbles associated with maintaining contact, with departure, and with decision-making. Each of these rumbles sound distinct, and elephants respond to each as if each carries a specific meaning to them. In the chapter I make an attempt to distinguish between them statistically.

As I finish this newsletter I have good news from Amboseli. We are having very heavy rains in the ecosystem. Of course, this makes studying the elephants difficult, but we never complain because rains mean abundant vegetation and times of plenty for the elephants, the other wildlife, and the livestock. The elephants are spread far and wide and there is little competition for resources. The calves have fresh, young grass to eat and that is just what they need when they start to feed. 


We have much to be thankful for in Amboseli. We live with amazing animals and equally amazing people. The work of the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust (see sidebar), which is truly a grass-roots organization, gives us much hope for the future. These Maasai see that they, and in the end, they alone are responsible for the health of the ecosystem and they are now taking important decisions on protecting it. This makes us happy and ATE will do everything it can to help them fulfill their goals.


Cynthia Moss
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
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The Amboseli Trust for Elephants aims to ensure the long-term conservation and welfare of Africa's elephants in the context of human needs and pressures through scientific research, training, community outreach, public awareness and advocacy.