The Born Free Foundation supports the vital work of elephant researchers in Amboseli. Meet some of the elephants they are helping to protect
Amboseli is one of Kenya’s most well-loved and visited national parks. Next to the Tanzania border in the Rift Valley province, the park nestles at the base of the 5895m snow-capped Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. The 393 sq km park is renowned for its abundant wildlife, especially the elephant population, which numbers more than 1300 individuals.
The elephants’ behaviour has been studied and monitored by elephant expert Cynthia Moss and her Amboseli Elephant Research Project team since 1973. This is the world’s longest-running study of any land mammal and has been supported by international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation since 1992. Cynthia’s work has taught the world about the complex emotional lives of elephants.
Echo the elephant
The elephants live in cohesive herds and one of these is especially close to Born Free’s heart. The ‘EBs’ are a close-knit and loving family, made world-famous thanks to the BBC’s popular Echo of the Elephants TV series. Echo was the EBs’ wise and knowledgeable matriarchal leader. For over four decades she guided and protected the family, before sadly dying in 2009 aged 65.
Echo had at least eight calves and the second youngest is Emily Kate, born back in 2000. She was a particularly adventurous and independent young elephant, but her big sisters Ebony and Eliot kept a careful eye on her. This caring behaviour by older siblings is known as ‘allo-mothering’ and is typical of female elephants. They thus develop the skills they need to care for their own calves.
Emily Kate was named after the daughter of the actor and Born Free patron Martin Clunes. Like all baby elephants she relied on her mother’s milk for the first four years, but gradually learnt to forage for food herself. Elephants are gentle vegetarians, and adult Emily Kate can eat up to 200kg of grass, leaves, twigs and shrubs every day. In 2005 Emily Kate’s little sister, Esprit, was born to a 61-year old Echo. Emily Kate immediately stepped in to help. Gradually, since Echo’s death, Emily Kate and Esprit have learned to cope without their mother, especially with the help of their ever-watchful big sisters.
Today Emily Kate has a calf of her own. Ewok was born in early 2013. Like all baby elephants, Ewok is cherished by the rest of the herd. Today the EB family is flourishing and has over 45 members, including Echo’s sisters, daughters, female cousins and their calves.
Please help KQ & the Born Free Foundation to safeguard Africa’s wildlife by placing any loose change in the envelopes provided and handing to a member of the cabin crew. The money received will help us in our fight to ensure a future for Africa’s wildlife. Thank you! www.bornfree.org.uk/about-us/born-free-kenya/