On the night of Saturday, January 20th, Abu Camp welcomed the latest member of the Abu Herd when Lorato gave birth to her first calf. The healthy male has been named Motlotlo (meaning “proud” or “pride” in Setswana) by the delighted human members of the Abu Herd.
The elephants in the Herd were no less happy to see him, and he has been made instantly welcome. Naledi, his half-sister (and until Saturday, the youngest member of the Abu Herd) has been making a real fuss of Motlotlo and watching over him protectively. She certainly doesn’t seem at all jealous at having to share the limelight.
Given that African elephants have a gestation period of some 22 months, Motlotlo would have been conceived in March or April 2016, during one of the Abu Herd’s prolonged daily periods of freely wandering in the bush. This is further evidence that the Herd members are able to interact normally and healthily with wild elephants.
This bodes well for potential additional introductions of Abu Herd members into the wild. All being well, these will one day include Motlotlo. For now, he is spending his days suckling (and gaining weight rapidly as a result), resting, and trying to figure out just what his trunk is for.
Wobbling in Lorato’s wake, he has only been as far as Baboon Island so far, but as he gains strength and confidence, he will soon be able to accompany his mother and the rest of the Herd on longer walks in the bush.
Elephant visiting hours for Abu Camp guests have been limited for the present, to avoid placing any stress on Motlotlo or his mother while he is still so young. Guests will however be able to visit the boma area in the mornings and evenings to watch Motlotlo play and feed, and will also have the opportunity to interact with him under the watchful eyes of his proud mother, and the Abu Camp elephant handlers.
As the first calf born to the Abu Herd since Naledi back in 2013, Motlotlo has already made a space for himself in many hearts. As he grows, he’ll inherit the important task of being an ambassador for elephant conservation – and for the preservation of the wild spaces on which his species depends, and which he will one day roam as a bull elephant, fully deserving of his birth name.