The History of the AA Family

Tue, 2010-09-14 09:50 by cmoss · Forum/category:
Wart Ear at my Window

The AA family holds a very special place in the Amboseli study, because it is the first family that was sighted and photographed on the very first day of the study on September 1, 1972. It has since become one of the best-known families in the population. I have continuous records of its births and deaths, good times and bad times over the past 38 years.

On that first day I was with my colleague Harvey Croze and we were trying to contact as many groups of elephants as possible and photograph at least the adult members. We drove out to the western part of the Park crossing the causeway over the Enkongo Narok swamp. Just along the shore we found a group of females and calves. Unfortunately, they were disappearing into the deep swamp, but we managed to count 13 animals and note that there were two calves less than a year old. Harvey took some photographs of the adult females. Two days later on September 3rd we came upon this group again and this time we were able to get better photographs and record the age and sex structure. The family appeared to consist of the following:

    Large adult female (convergent tusks)
      4-5 year old calf

    Female with a large wart on her right ear

      Six-month-old calf
      5-6 year old calf

    Adult female (straight tusks)

      4-5 year old calf

    Adult female (slightly splayed tusks)

      Six-month-old calf
      5-6 year old calf

    Adolescent female about 10 years old
    8-10 year old male
    Young male with a slit cut in his trunk

We took the films back to Nairobi and developed them. On that trip we had seen and photographed seven definite families each of which we gave a letter of the alphabet. The first group was called the "A" family and the adult females in that family were named with letters beginning with "A" with one exception. The female with the wart on her ear never got an "A" name but continued to be designated Wart Ear. The largest female, the matriarch, was called Annabelle. The adult female with straight tusks was named Alyce, the young adult female with splayed tusks Amy, and the adolescent female Alison. In our data coding sheets we used the first three letters of the females' names as their code and so we tried to give them names with unique first three letters. Thus we spelled Alyce's name with a "y" so that she would not have the same code as Alison. The young male was given the code number M31, but was usually referred to as Slit Trunk. He had an open eight-inch slit in his trunk that went right through to the inner nasal passage. However, it had healed well and did not seem to cause him any problem.

To read the remainder of this story click on the link to the attached PDF below.

AA History for Website 8-10_4.pdf359.43 KB

They are authentic fighters

Sun, 2012-02-05 22:14 by echo2009

I get excited with every word, with every phrase. It is an exciting history. It demonstrates fighters who are the elephants, recovering of losses as important as those of Annabelle, Wart Ear and Amy. I will pray for the family AA and for the subgroup that Abigail leads.


Sun, 2011-04-17 20:09 by mkennedy

What happened to Kenny, Kerry's son?

I saw this name under "Amboseli's Beautiful Matriarchs" under the photo Kerry and the little calf right beside her someone said that was Kenny?


Sat, 2010-11-20 19:52 by DFord

What happened to the elephant named Aurelia?


Tue, 2010-11-16 13:00 by nicola

In the AA family history it said that austin died. when did he die? did he die in the drought?



Tue, 2010-11-09 11:45 by nicola

what happened to alison's daughter arose?



Fri, 2010-11-12 15:33 by cmoss

Where did you see this name? If you answer this question I'll answer one of yours.


Fri, 2010-11-12 16:41 by nicola

i found it on your facebook.


Fri, 2010-11-12 19:03 by cmoss

I haven't seen it on Facebook.


Fri, 2010-11-12 19:33 by nicola

its on your facebook. in the photo album amboseli's beautiful matriarchs


Sat, 2010-11-13 05:18 by cmoss

Thanks, Nicola. Sadly, Arose died during the 2009 drought. Now, as promised, I'll answer ONE of your questions. I'll let you decide which one.


Sat, 2010-11-13 12:29 by nicola

what are the names of anghared offspring,when were they born? are they still alive? also can you tell me when arose was born?


Anghared and Arose

Sat, 2010-11-13 14:32 by cmoss

Poor Anghared has not had good luck with her calves. She's had four and all of them have died: she had one in 1996, a second in 1999 and a third in 2002 and none survived. She then had a calf in 2007 who was doing well until the drought and died in 2009. We have hope that she'll have a calf that will make it.

Arose was born in May 2006 and died in July 2009.


Mon, 2010-11-08 21:45 by nicola

i read in the aa history that there is a male elephant named alpha blondy but it doesn't say anything else about him. who is his mother? when was he born? is he still alive? also when was annabelle mother is alison and agatha born?



Mon, 2010-11-08 16:39 by nicola

i was reading the AA history. i said amelia had a son aquarius who was speared when he was 5 years old but it doesn,t say when he was born or when he died. i also read somewhere that anghared has 2 this true?



Mon, 2010-10-11 22:59 by DFord

Hi, I was on your old website before you got this new website. Well, I was on and found a blog post or whatever you call them and there were two calves that were named: Crystal's April, 2005 calf and AMELIA'S 2004 calf, born in February. What is the name of Amelia's 2004 calf because I believe you did not mention about him in the AA family Historty. Or did you? And also, since I brought this up, what was Crystal's 2005 calf? Thank you Cynthia and your assistants and I think it is really awesome how you study your passion...elephants. I know I have been bugging you all but may you please answer these questions. These are the two questions I really want to know!
Darby F.

AA family

Thu, 2010-10-21 14:32 by nicola

when was annabelle born?


Thu, 2010-10-28 18:05 by nicola

what are the names of anghared's offspring?

AA family

Sun, 2010-10-31 15:48 by nicola

i really want to know
when was aquarius born?
when did aquarius die?

AA family

Thu, 2010-10-21 14:22 by nicola

who is alpha blondy?
is his mother wart ear?
when was he born?
is he still alive?
is there a elephant named aurelia in the AA family?

I don't get...

Thu, 2010-09-23 12:20 by DFord

...if the History of the family of elephant, is there going to be one of those pdf. docs every month about a new elephant family: next will be the B family and then the C, then the D, etc. What I am trying to say is every month will there be a new family pdf. file.

I don't get...

Thu, 2010-09-23 12:19 by DFord

...if the History of the family of elephant, is there going to be one of those pdf. docs every month about a new elephant family: next will be the B family and then the C, then the D, etc. What I am trying to say is every month will there be a new family pdf. file.

Schedule for Family Histories

Thu, 2010-09-23 17:39 by cmoss

Yes, that's what my plan is. Each month I will produce a history of one of the Amboseli families. Next month it will be the BB family led by matriarch Barbara.

Schedule for Family Histories

Thu, 2010-09-23 22:44 by DFord

Thank you Cynthia for the news update. I get it now. And can you tell me one thing: How long has Barbara been matriarch?
Thank you for the news :)
Darby F.


Fri, 2010-09-24 11:34 by Hans

Please be patient. The family history will come in due time. Asking for parts of it in advance will not help.

Histories of the BB family

Sun, 2010-09-26 14:04 by DFord

Will the History of the BB family be put on this website on October 1 or later into the month for example October 14?
Thank you for doing this for all of us
Darby F.

I'm sure Cynthia will share

Sun, 2010-09-26 14:18 by msowers

I'm sure Cynthia will share it with us as soon as it is finished, whenever that may be. She has a lot of other important work to do for the elephants that takes priority.

Family Histories

Mon, 2010-09-20 21:17 by Donna

Cynthia, I can not tell you how much I appreciate your writing up the family histories. These will be great histories in their own right. After they are completed, it should be fairly easy to keep them updated. Keep up the good work!!

Alison and young

Sun, 2010-09-19 15:04 by velvet

It says in the picture of Alison and her three young that There was her calf born in 2006, Artemis and Arden. It says in one chart that Arden was born in May 2006. How is that possible that Arden and Alison's other calf were both born in the year of 2006? Thanks


Sun, 2010-09-19 16:39 by cmoss

Thanks. Now I see how that section for Alison's calves got so messed up. Arden was born in February 2002. The columns got out of sync. Remember I had Artemis down as born in Feb 2002. Then I had Arden born in February 2006. The calf born in February 2006 died from the drought in 2009. Fortunately all these dates are carefully entered and correct in the demography database. Now I believe the columns in the history are back in sync, but if you see anything else please tell me.


Sun, 2010-09-19 16:43 by velvet

Thanks for the report. And um about Winston, when did Willa die and was Equinox apart of the 1980 study

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