Elephant Twins Born In South Africa

By Ashworth Africa, December 23, 2014

Elephant twins, Pongola, South Africa

Pongola Game Reserve, a 7 200-hectare “Big Four” game reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal province, reported the birth of African elephant twins in early December. Scientific evidence suggests that twins result from under 1% of elephant birth – making this an extremely rare event. There is even less chance of both twins surviving to adulthood.

Elephant specialist Dr Ian Whyte of the Kruger National Park says the chance of African elephant twins being born may be as low as 0.5%.

“Though a few cases of twinning have been reported in the Kruger National Park, an examination of the reproductive tracts of over 1 200 adult cows culled in the Kruger National Park during population control operations did not yield a single case of twins,” he says “An earlier study published by Smuts in 1975 found two sets of twins among 353 embryos examined which is a 0.5% prevalence.”

In humans, the prevalence of twins can rise as high as 5% – five out of every 100 births – although the average is somewhere nearer to 3%.

The as-yet unnamed twins were born to a 31-year-old elephant cow called Curve, named for the curve of one of her tusks. Before the twins she had already produced three calves, all male.

Elephant twins 2 

The twins, at left, shelter under their mother at a watering hole.

Paternity tests suggest the twins’ father to be a 44-year-old elephant bull, who died just over a year ago. (African elephant pregnancies last some 645 days – around 22 months.) The sex of the twins remains unconfirmed, as park rangers want to give them space to grow and beat the mortality odds for elephant twins.

“This is the best approach,” Whyte says. “Mortality of one of the twins usually occurs 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.”

Elephant twins 3

Since 2008 Pongola Game Reserve has had well-established measures to keep the elephant population stable. These include vasectomies as well as gonadotropin-releasing hormone, to ensure the number of elephants to not exceed the food resources available. With enough to sustain them, and given their safe birth, the twins have a good chance of living long and healthy lives.

 

Related Itineraries

From US$ 8950 pp
Migration
The Great Migration
7 days/6 nights
Kenya, Tanzania

Enjoy a front-row seat to the world’s greatest natural spectacle, the annual...

View Itinerary
From US$ 4000 pp
Tanzania Bush and Beach
8 days/7 nights
Tanzania

Safari in unspoilt Selous Game Reserve and incredible diving on Pemba Island...

View Itinerary
From US$ 5000 pp
Western Tanzania
8 days/ 7 nights
Tanzania

Take the road less travelled in remote Western Tanzania, one of East...

View Itinerary
From US$ 4500 pp
Kenya Romance
8 days/ 7 nights
Kenya

Safari in unspoilt Meru, then indulge in a tropical Kenya Coast...

View Itinerary
From US$ 3000 pp
Kenya Family Safari
8 days/ 7 nights
Kenya

Experience the safari of a lifetime in the wild heart of Africa...

View Itinerary
From US$ 5000 pp
Northern Mozambique
8 days/ 7 nights
Mozambique

Escape to untouched tropical waters and some of the world's best diving...

View Itinerary
From US$ 6000 pp
Best of Namibia
11 days/ 10 nights
Namibia

Experience the highlights of one least populated countries on Earth. in comfort...

View Itinerary
From US$ 5000 pp
Best of Zimbabwe
9 days/8 nights
Zimbabwe

From the natural wonder of Victoria Falls to the game-rich wilderness of...

View Itinerary
From US$ 6000 pp
Best of Kenya
8 days/ 7 nights
Kenya

Big 5 safari through classic safari territory and following Great Wildebeest Migration...

View Itinerary
From US$ 6000 pp
Best of Tanzania
9 days/ 8 nights
Tanzania

Tanzania's Northern Safari Circuit offers thrilling Big 5 and Great Migration viewing. ...

View Itinerary
From US$ 6000 pp
East Africa Family Bush & Beach
9 days/8 nights
Kenya, Tanzania

Make lasting memories with a thrilling Kenyan safari and Zanzibar island escape...

View Itinerary
From US$ 4000 pp
Whales, wine & wilderness
11 days/ 10 nights
South Africa

Pongola Game Reserve, a 7 200-hectare “Big Four” game reserve in northern...

View Itinerary
From US$ 2500 pp pp
South Africa Family Adventure
9 days/ 8 nights
South Africa

Pongola Game Reserve, a 7 200-hectare “Big Four” game reserve in northern...

View Itinerary
From US$ 5000 pp
Rwanda Primate Safari
7 days/ 6 nights
Rwanda

Encounter endangered mountain gorilla, chimps and 12 other primate species in Rwanda’s...

View Itinerary

Create your own itinerary

Bring your wildest dreams to life – contact Ashworth Africa to start creating your bespoke safari vacation.

Enquire now