The Serengeti: Families

Being in the Serengeti allowed us the space to observe the family units and their interactions. I never expected to find hyenas cute (especially not after the retching incident), but they won me over when I saw how tight-knit the family was. The adults always made sure that the pups were well looked after (yes they regurgitate food for the young). I especially liked how they lolled about relaxedly at the end of the day nuzzling each other, while the dark-coloured pup gambolled around. We had to wait quite a bit before the pup came back into the family circle to snap this pic.

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More famous for being in a family are the elephants, who travel in herds of females and their young. They make a stunning sight against the savannah.

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At first I wondered why there were so many males in the herd, then I realised that unlike Asian elephants, females have tusks too.

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Elephants are highly protective of their young, and won’t think twice about trampling anything that could threaten the young ones. Muba told us that no one he knows has seen an elephant give birth. Elephants would do all they can to protect the birthing mother that no one could get close, let alone witness the happy event. We had to content ourselves with looking at the cute babies run alongside the herd.

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It’s hard to describe the majesty of observing a herd of elephants walk right past. I hope the video below will help to give the tiniest impression of it.

 

Notwithstanding the majesty of the herd, we couldn’t get over how cute the little calves were. They were so young yet looked so old and wrinkled.

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And they hung out in little groups of young ‘uns, alternately playing catch and holding on to the leader’s tail.

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I was quite surprised that elephants have breasts, a pair each like humans, rather than udders like a cow. Muba taught us that that was the way to identify females rather than attempt to look at the size of their tusks. Here’s a rather grown-up baby (about 3-5 years old) still not yet weaned off mother’s milk.

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