Researchers at Pongola Game Reserve, a privately owned reserve in South Africa, have reported the birth of twin elephant babies to a pregnant elephant. According to Grind TV, the birth of twin elephant babies is an extremely rare event and typically occurs in less than one percent of elephant births. If that wasn’t enough, twin elephant calves are susceptible to several infections due to birth complications and are known to have a high mortality rate. Very few twin elephant calves have made it to adulthood, says elephant specialist Dr. Ian Whyte.
According to Dr. Whyte, who is a retired Projects Manager: Large Herbivores: Dept. of Scientific Services at the National Parks Board, Kruger National Park, there have been very few recorded instances of twin elephant babies being born in the wild or captivity.
“Though a few cases of twinning have been reported in the Kruger National Park, an examination of the reproductive tracts of over 1200 adult cows culled in the Kruger National Park during population control operations did not yield a single case of twins*. An earlier study published by Smuts in 1975** found two sets of twins among 353 embryos examined which is a 0.5% prevalence.”
According to officials from the Pangola Game Reserve, the twin elephant calves were born to a 31-year-old elephant cow named “Curve.” The twin babies have not been given names yet, and officials do not know the sexes of the two, reports News 24. Their mom was christened “Curve” owing to the curved shape of one of her tusks. The father of the rare twin elephant calves is believed to be a 44-year-old bull named Ingani, who, since impregnating the mother, passed away in 2013. Elephants have a gestation period of 22-months.
Meanwhile, Dr. Whyte adds that one of the reasons twin elephant calves do not survive to adulthood is because the mother is unable to cater to the increased demand for milk because of various kinds of stress. For the same reason, officials at the reserve have given the mother elephant enough space and a comfortable environment to let her be free of stress.
“This is the best approach. Mortality of one of the elephant twins usually occur as the increasing demand for milk by two calves cannot be met by the mother and the less dominant of the two calves usually cannot gain access to its share. One rather famous Matriarch in Kruger dubbed MaMerle produced a set of twins in 2002, both of which survived to post weaning age, and she then produced a second set in 2006, both of which had survived to more than a year old when she was last seen. Curve needs a stress free environment to beat the odds.”
[Image Via Facebook]