The Making of a Matriarch; How does an Elephant become Matriarch within their Family?

Mon, 2010-01-18 03:35 by fanofecho · Forum/category:

I was totally captivated with the show about Echo, but I have a question as far as how does an elephant become Matriarch within their family? Is it only the oldest that are the matriarch?
Love the hard work all of you are doing with these amazing animals! It must be very hard to loose these animals.
I also want to know if people are able to visit with you guys down there?




Wed, 2010-01-27 01:14 by msowers

Hello fanofecho,

Good to have you here and very glad that you enjoyed the Echo show.

To answer your question, matriarchs are almost always the oldest female in the family. These females are larger and typically more dominant (hierarchy is an important part of elephant society). More importantly, they also have had the most life experience and time to learn from the previous matriarch. Elephant families stick together to help insure the survival of calves (though it is not hard to see that they truly enjoy the companionship, also), and being led by the oldest female gives them the best chances in the sometimes-harsh environment in which they live. There can sometimes be disagreements within the family about who should be the matriarch, particularly after the death of an especially wise, old matriarch. This can lead to a temporary or permanent fission with new leaders taking charge of the separate factions.

Echo was a prime example of a good matriarch, wise and obviously respected by the members of her family, as shown by the profound impact her death had on them.

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