Edwina is the granddaughter of Echo, the famous elephant matriarch of Amboseli, Kenya. Born in 1982, Edwina’s family was observed by a pioneering researcher Cynthia Moss and Amboseli Trust for Elephants and became part of many TV documentaries and books. Through the close observation of the herd by the researchers and videographers, there are many tales to tell about Edwina and her herd – and lots of new discoveries made including the secret life of elephants at night, fight between bulls and the tragic story of the hunting of Kenyas magnificent bulls in Tanzania.
Edwina’s teenage and early adulthood were a rocky path, with some severe droughts that caused food-shortage. There was low rainfall in 2008 and then almost no rain in 2009, resulting in the worst drought in living memory. In the end, close to 400 elephants died, 83% of the wildebeest, 71% of the zebras, 61% of the buffaloes and 60-80% of the cattle. It was devastating for people and animals alike.
On May 3, 2009, Edwina’s grandmother Echo – who as the matriarch of her herd had saved her family from many natural disasters and human intervention – died of natural causes related to the drought. Her family was distraught and broke down into small subunits; being lost and not knowing where to go and what to do in case of danger. Edwina broke off with just her calves as a subunit. All the families were splintering in their attempt to find the last bits of food.
In 2010, when the drought was truly over, the sub-groups coalesced again , including Edwina who now still also often moves on her own with her daughters. It looks like she is gradually splitting off and she may eventually form an independent family of her own.
The photo shows Edwina playing with her younger brother 13 years ago: she was learning how to be the successful mother she is today with three healthy calves.
Photo and information courtesy: Cynthia Moss & Amboseli Trust for Elephants