EB family sighted

Fri, 2010-05-07 11:50 by Hans · Forum/category:
The EB family marches towards the Amboseli swamp

Today I had the luck to see the EB family, now headed by Echo's niece Eudora, marching back towards the Amboseli swamp from the north after not being seen for 6 weeks.

The group now numbers 24 after losing about 10, including Echo, during the prolonged draught before this rainy season. Another part of the EBs, headed by Echo's sister Ella, counts 8 and was not nearby.

At least one bull had temporarily joined the group.

Elephant politics

Sat, 2010-05-08 06:36 by Hans

I can relay the gist of some discussions here, mainly with Graeme, an elephant communications researcher who is currently about to finish a fascinating set of experiments with the elephants, whose results are hoped to be published in some renowned science paper, so I should not spoil that here through premature publication. He is working together with Katito and the other research assistants and so knows very much more than I do.

I asked him why the EBs did not stay together, being led by Ella, who was the obvious successor to Echo, being her sister and also the oldest, biggest EB female now. My first guess was that the majority of the family members just liked Eudora more, even though she is younger and, being Echo's niece, not as closely related to Echo, the great previous matriarch.

But the truth seems to be a bit different, and it gives us a vague idea of the complexity of social relations in elephant family groups. However, I think I still have to consider it hearsay and speculation. We have no way to be sure, and we may be wrong. Too bad we cannot ask the elephants directly.

What came across is that, while Echo was still the matriarch, Ella used to be relatively peripheral to the group. I have heard the word maverick. This may be the reason why her splinter group counts only 8 individuals, but, on the other hand, Ella obviously had a strong enough personality to form a new subgroup in the first place.

The researchers also tend to think that Eudora is not, or not yet, such a great leader. She is still inexperienced. Particularly, they think that her 23 followers did not choose to stay in the main group because they preferred Eudora, but merely because they preferred to stay together, so they got Eudora by default, because she is now the oldest, biggest female of the main EB family group. In other words, they did not stay with Eudora because they liked Eudora so much, but because they did not like Ella enough.

Please let me remind you again that this is not the truth set in stone, but merely what some knowledgeable people (not including Cynthia, who is not in Africa right now and may currently be too busy to look in here) think may be the truth. Moreover, we have yet to find out whether Ella or Eudora or both will still learn and gain the experience and knowledge to become famous and successful matriarchs. We cannot even be entirely sure whether the split in the EB family group is permanent (currently considered more likely) or whether they may yet reunite (deemed less likely, but cannot be ruled out just yet).

I guess that it is particularly difficult for us humans to judge the leadership quality of a matriarch before many years have passed and we can judge the final success by the growth of the family. Echo was the shining example of a successful leader. She guided her family from a single-digit number of members to a group counting 42 in its best time.


Sun, 2010-05-09 18:16 by Alison1962

Hans, thankyou again.

This is really interesting , i remember how confused, disorientated and grief stricken the group were following Echos death and of course Ella and her sub group were not there to experience that.
I have been wondering how the family would find a new matriarch, Enid, i think was mentioned as a likely sucessor but being the most effected by the loss of her mother must have impacted on the familys decisions, i remember how they split into several small groups before coming back together.
Then with the return of Ella and her group it must have again caused confusion with them all looking for stability.
I would like to think that Enid will become stronger and eventually become Matriach.
Esprit and Emily kate were of particular interest as i have been a sponsor, i know they were with Elliot so i guess are in the group with Eudora.
I will watch and learn from your reports. I will look forward to reading Graemes findings

Thankyou Alison


Fri, 2010-05-07 21:27 by Donna

Thank you, Hans, for the report and the pix. Aren't they beauties?


Fri, 2010-05-07 14:02 by Alison1962

Thankyou Hans for this news,
i was in Amboseli 2 weeks ago and tried to find them, now i know why i couldnt.
Was Esprit and Emily Kate amongst them?
What a lovely picture you were really lucky.
Could you please pass my best wishes to Katito.
Thankyou Alison.

Esprit, Emily Kate

Tue, 2010-05-11 19:40 by Hans

Yes, they were there. In fact, they have been seen again today. They are fine.

Esprit, Emily Kate thankyou.

Wed, 2010-05-12 07:30 by Alison1962

Hans, thankyou for this. Its nice to hear they are ok, hopefully next time i come i will get to see them. Enjoy your time in Amboseli Alison x

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