September 2015 – Abu Camp is delighted to announce that one of its elephant herd members, Lorato, is believed to be pregnant with her first calf. At the end of December 2014, Lorato was seen mating with a wild bull while out in the Abu concession and since then, no other bull elephant has approached her. This, along with other signs picked up by the elephant handlers, strongly suggests that she is now pregnant.
Lorato, the oldest surviving offspring of the late Kiti and biological big sister to Naledi, is only turning seven years old which is quite young to be so receptive to mating. The gestation period for African elephants is an epic 22 months (the longest of any land animal) so she is still in the early stages. All being well, she should give birth sometime around October or November 2016. Her calf will be the first one born into the Abu herd since Naledi in November 2013.
Lorato’s successful mating with a wild elephant bull is further evidence of the success of Abu Camp’s efforts to assimilate its elephant herd to live – to the fullest extent possible – a natural, free-ranging life following the habits of their wild cousins, while striving for excellence in elephant welfare.
The wellbeing of Abu’s elephant herd is the paramount consideration in every operational decision taken at Abu Camp and this policy continues to pay dividends. Everyone at Abu Camp – and Lorato too of course – is now faced with a long wait until the birth of her calf. Being able to document her pregnancy and the eventual birth will give researchers valuable insights into elephant reproduction, adding to the considerable data already collected by Abu’s conservation partners, Elephants Without Borders.
In addition to serving as a centre of excellence for elephant research, Abu Camp is renowned for offering Africa’s premier elephant interaction experience – with guests forming lasting bonds with the elephants of the Abu herd and each activity specially designed to let them see the Okavango Delta through the eyes of these gracious mammals.
Members of the herd that have been introduced into the wild, as well as a number of wild elephants, have been fitted with satellite tracking collars, yielding data on the movements and habitat requirements not just of individual elephants but the macro-herds of northern Botswana.
Perhaps most importantly of all, the Abu elephants serve as eloquent and undeniable ambassadors for the conservation of their species, spreading their message of hope around the world through the deep and lasting impact they have on everyone who meets them.