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In the hunt for Amboseli’s rare mother of twin jumbos

Dan Kaburu @KaburuDan

Picture this, an elephant carries a pregnancy for nearly two years, or 660 days. In comparison, a human’s gestation period is 280 days. It is no wonder that twins are such a rare occurrence among the jumbos. But Amboseli National Park has once again made history after one of its elephants gave birth to twins early this year.

This is a whole 38 years after a similar feat in the same park. But locating Paru, 39, the mother and her twins, in the 392 square-kilometre park is no walk in the park.

We drove into the beauty of the lush green left by the long rains North of Kilimanjaro in Kajiado county in search of the mammals with hearts full of optimism. The drive is such a welcome breath of freshness, more so if you are from the chaos of Nairobi City.

Times are good at the park.  Pasture is aplenty, animals of all kinds roam the thriving grassland. There are buffaloes, gazelles, zebras, waterbucks, giraffes and many more.

Beautiful birds add their colour to the air and sounds of the expansive reserve. We are told that there are more than 400 species of bird in the Amboseli ecosystem, the latest entrant being flamingos.

The pink tourist attractions, says a warden, were drawn into the park after the recent heavy rains turned an area of the reserve into a temporary lake.

On another side of the park, you find the biggest of land mammals grazing peacefully in the swamps. This park has close to 2,000 elephants. The jumbos are easy to spot over the savannah grassland.

But it is Paru we were interested in. And being a mother of vulnerable two-month-old twins, she doesn’t make being found easy. It calls for patience.

After five hours of careful searching, we hit the jackpot. We find Paru and her beautiful twins, a male and a female, in a herd of about 40 elephants. But the twins were sleeping, while their mother fed in the green grass nearby.

It took another long, patient wait for Paru to get the calves from slumber-land and for us to get a better glimpse. As the twins join their mother and other elephants as the herd moved to a different part of the park, we notice another young elephant, who constantly moves alongside the family of three.

Amboseli senior Warden Kenneth ole Nashuu, explained that elephants are highly social with clear leadership structures. He said the junior elephant works as a “maid” and her work is to take care of the twins. She ensures they stay close to their mother and out of danger, especially being trampled down when bull elephants fight.

He also revealed that poaching in the Amboseli National Park has all but come to an end. This, he said, follows a decision by the management of the park to involve the local community in conserving the jumbos.

He added that there are more than 300 scouts from the local community currently working closely with the wardens to make sure that the elephants are protected.

With such a peaceful and safe environment, Paru and her twins who are yet to be given names are guaranteed a long life. Census for the elephants in Amboseli National Park is set to take place later this month.

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