Cow elephants are known for their strong maternal instincts. Their main roles are to raise their young and lead their herd once they are old enough. They learn these skills from older generations as they remain with the female herd for as long as they live.
I am a proud female elephant, entirely different from the bull. One way to tell us apart is by our heads. Males have a broader head while ours is sharper. We have smaller tusks, which weigh 20 kilograms each. My mother is my provider; protector; and leader therefore, I stick with her from a young age. As I grow older, I begin to take responsibility. I reach sexual maturity between the ages of 10-12 years. We usually have multiple mates throughout our lives, giving birth once every 2.5-4 years until the age of 50. It takes 22 months to give birth, which is over twice as long the human birth. Cow elephants are highly family-oriented, their herds are guided by the oldest female who naturally has the most experience. In a video posted by the discovery channel on Youtube (August 2019), a herd is shown protecting a calf from a pack of lions. The mother sees the danger ahead and summons the rest of the herd, they proceed to form a barricade around the baby elephant which leaves the lions with no choice but to back away. This was intense, although the herd proved to be alert and ready to protect their smallest member. The female is inevitably responsible for these tight-knit families, without them their calves are left unprotected and could die of starvation. According to Katarzyna Nowak, 2015 (National Geographic) “Elephant females teach their young cows and bulls where to find dry season water sources such as natural springs, or where to dig for wells in dry riverbeds. Similarly, human females traditionally teach children where to fetch clean and safe water from rivers, streams, and wells.” This demonstrates their importance in their families’ lives, identical to female humans. Cow elephants must be protected to keep their families safe and healthy.
Wild and Free Foundation is a non-profit organization. We are dedicated to finding and implementing holistic conservation strategies for the benefit of wildlife and for the benefit of local communities.