New-born elephant in the moments after birth


Guests at nThambo Tree Camp were lucky enough to watch a new-born elephant calf during its first hour of life recently; a sight one never expects to see – not even the rangers!

Elephants are arguably the most fascinating creatures in Africa when it comes to family structure and herd dynamics. There is a purpose for everything, and there is a level of teamwork to be admired. Elephants are highly social animals and they live according to a disciplined regime that maintains order in the group. Splitting into breeding herds and bachelor herds, females and adult males live separately in ritualised harmony, but when order is thrown out and that structure is lost, chaos ensues.

A magical part of elephants’ lives that we should be so lucky to see, is birth. A baby elephant is carried in the womb for a whopping 22 months, and the mother will only have another calf after 4 years. The entire breeding herd is invested in the upbringing of the young. Guarding, rearing, and teaching calves happens from the moment of birth. And at death, elephants physically mourn their departed family members by carrying around bones, or visiting grave sites.

It is an intense and beautiful circle of life, and we are thrilled our guests were lucky enough to be a part of the experienced with these relaxed animals. Enjoy this footage by Dave Jackson and Luan Oosthuizen, and narrated by guide, Matt Roberts.