An elephant gave birth to twins on Tuesday morning at the Aberdare National Park in Kenya, a rare occurrence that was recorded by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials.
The KWS announced the exciting news without disclosing whether the mother and calves were in good health after the “extremely rare” births.
“Elephants are keystone species, playing an important role in maintaining biodiversity of the ecosystems,” KWS said.
In January this year, another elephant gave birth to twins at the Samburu National Reserve. Another jumbo had produced twins in 2006, bringing the number of known twin births in Kenya to three.
The set born in 2006 did not live long as they were reported to have died shortly after. Scientists say that female elephants lack adequate milk to nourish two calves simultaneously, making their survival difficult.
In April, an elephant gave birth to twins at Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, India, in the presence of tourists and sanctuary officials, causing excitement among wildlife activists.
Media reports in that country said the last similar event occurred in the Mudumalai reserve a few years earlier, and yet another at the Karnataka reserve in the 1980s.
Elephants’ pregnancies last 22 months and they give birth every four years surrounded by a herd led by older females.
Elephant twins account for less than one percent of births in the wild.
Baby elephants weigh between 90kg and 120kg at birth, with male ones heavier.
Mothers cluster around their young ones defensively after birth to protect them
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the population of African savannah elephants has plummeted by at least 60 percent over the past 50 years, resulting in their classification as endangered species.
Human-elephant conflict has escalated in Kenya as a result of increasing loss of habitat and competition in land use.
Kenya’s Amboseli National Park hosts about 1,800 elephants, while Tsavo National Park is home to the highest population of jumbos, 14,000.
“In recent years, elephant poaching has reduced significantly, leading to a surge in elephant populations in Kenya,” says the KWS.
“According to the KWS Census Report, Kenya is home to a total of 36,280 elephants, representing a 21 percent growth from 2014 when poaching was at its peak.
“This increase has been realised thanks to the sustained government crackdown on poaching and illegal ivory.”
Elephants are intelligent animals that rarely forget their paths. They also express their feelings with their ears and can live up to 70 years.