The History of the PA Family

Mon, 2012-06-25 15:35 by cmoss · Forum/category:
Philomena and Penelope greeting Pearl, Penelope's daughter, leading the PAs

The PA family has always been big and fluid and frequently confusing. It was the first family in the population to permanently split into two; there have been others since then but it is not a common occurrence. Up until 1982 the Ps, as they were called then, made up the largest family in the Amboseli population. They were a magnificent group when my colleague Harvey Croze and I first saw them on October 20, 1973. There were so many big adult females that it was all we could do to just photograph them on that day. Two months later Iain Douglas Hamilton went to Amboseli and took several rolls of film of a big elephant herd and turned the film over to us. Most of the herd consisted of the Ps and Iain's photos helped us sort out the various females and their calves. However, it was not really until 1975 and 1976 that I got to know them well.

When I began to live in the Park in September 1975 I knew the Ps contained at least six big females and two teenaged females. All these animals were named. We decided that Penelope was the matriarch because she usually led the group and the others seemed to orient towards her. The next largest was a left one tusk animal we called Phoebe, then there were four medium sized females: Philomena, Patricia, Phyllis and Polly. One of the teenaged females had been named Pick, because she had a funny little right tusk, and the other was called Pamela. Pick appeared to be Phoebe's daughter and Pamela Philomena's.

One day I was out in the Park and found what I thought was a completely new group. I photographed them, assigned them the letter "Z" and named the two adult females that were present Zoya and Zelda. Over the next months Zelda was found with the Ps on almost every sighting, so I decided I had made a mistake and renamed her Priscilla. She was the seventh adult female in the P family.

To read the full story open the attachment.

The History of the PA Family.pdf3.98 MB

All of them are already in my heart.

Tue, 2012-07-03 13:21 by echo2009

It saddens me very much to know that many adult females died in the drought of 2009, some of very valuable them for the Ps. Also it is sad to know Polly's history, which left us before time due to a bite of serpent, but there is something that does not produce sadness but ire and frustration to me. They are the deaths of matriarches as valuable as Penélope murdered by the poachers, or of young elephants as Pamela, died by the interference of the human in his habitat. In any case, it has looked to me a fascinating history, since always, especially when the family accepted to Puff, a behavior only worthily of our dear elephants.

Thanks to Cynthia and to the rest of workers of Amboseli, because in spite of the difficulties that cross these incredible animals, you do that his lives are a bit easier. A greeting.

History of the PA Family

Tue, 2012-06-26 22:47 by niall anderson

Thank you once again, Cynthia, for making such fascinating aspects of your scientific studies available to us 'laymen': the time you devote to this in a busy life is very much appreciated.


Tue, 2012-06-26 13:44 by Elephant2011

I still get ridiculously excited whenever a family history is released out. It was wonderful reading about the PAs and thank you very much Dr Cynthia.

What an excellent history -

Mon, 2012-06-25 21:42 by biglinz

What an excellent history - many thanks for taking the time to post it !! Looks like the family will be getting bigger and bigger in years to come , looks like plenty girls there to carry on the family name .

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