April 5 (UPI) — A rare pair of twin calves recently joined their mother’s herd in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park.
Conservationists and researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society documented the twins as they joined Eloise, their mom, and her friends and relatives.
Researchers believe fewer than 1 percent of elephant births yield twins. What’s more, Eloise is estimated to be 57 years old, making her the oldest female elephant to birth twins.
It’s not easy being a twin. The mortality rates for twins is higher than for elephants who have mom all to themselves. But the pair are already eight months old and reportedly doing well.
Female relatives often assist new moms with rearing responsibilities. Eloise will certainly need assistance, as the twins will rely on their mother’s milk for another three to four years.
“The twins were originally quite thin and we were worried that they wouldn’t survive,” Charles Foley, director of WCS’s Tarangire Elephant Project, said in a news release. “Fortunately the park has experienced good rains in the past three months, and both twins have gained significant weight and we are happy to see that they are now playing more frequently.”
“The elephants in and around Tarangire National Park are well-protected by the park rangers and local communities, and with the guidance of an experienced matriarch, we have high hopes for their survival,” Foley said. “Every elephant calf born is a step towards the recovery of the species, and twins are even better.”
Tanzania and the World Wildlife Federation recently initiated a massive elephant collaring campaign in an effort to better protect the threatened animals in East Africa. Some estimates suggest Tanzania has lost 90 percent of its elephant population to poaching over the last decade.